His­tory and form favour Ger­many

Sportstar - - GROUP F - M.R. PRAVEEN CHAN­DRAN

Group F is rel­a­tively strong, fea­tur­ing four­time cham­pion and holder Ger­many, Swe­den, Mex­ico and South Korea, but his­tory and form make Ger­many the ob­vi­ous favourite to top the group. Die Mannschaft un­der coach Joachim Loew has not ex­ited from a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion be­fore the semifinals. But the curse of the World Cup win­ner will haunt Ger­many, which is hop­ing to be­come the first team since Brazil in 1962 to de­fend the ti­tle. Swe­den, which fa­mously knocked out Italy from the World Cup in qualifying, is mak­ing an ap­pear­ance at the show­piece event af­ter 12 years, and its match against Mex­ico will be cru­cial, ef­fec­tively de­cid­ing sec­ond place in the group. The Mex­i­cans mak­ing their ninth con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance in the World Cup can still be the dark horse in the group and they have the where­withal to be a thorn in the flesh of Ger­many and Swe­den, while South Korea looks the weak­est of the lot, and with a patchy show in the qual­i­fiers, the team doesn’t in­spire much con­fi­dence.

GER­MANY

Ranked No.1 in the world, Ger­many breezed through the qual­i­fiers, win­ning all 10 matches and ham­mer­ing in an as­ton­ish­ing 43 goals scored by 21 dif­fer­ent play­ers, giv­ing Loew a few se­lec­tion headaches be­fore he fi­nalised his squad. Ger­many, de­spite the loss of sev­eral veter­ans, has enough depth, as shown re­cently in the qual­i­fiers and in the FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup tri­umph in Rus­sia last year. Thomas Muller, Me­sut Ozil, Jerome Boateng and

Mats Hum­mels are still around and will form the core of the team. The Ger­mans have not lost a World Cup match to any of their group ri­vals since 1958 and are favourites to top the group.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Manuel Neuer, Marc­an­dre ter Ste­gen, Kevin Trapp.

De­fend­ers: Matthias Gin­ter, Jonas Hec­tor, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hum­mels, Nik­las Sule,

Joshua Kim­mich, Marvin Plat­ten­hardt, Antonio Rudi­ger.

Mid­field­ers/for­wards: Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez, Leon Goret­zka,

Ilkay Gun­do­gan, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Se­bastien Rudy, Me­sut Ozil,

Marco Reus, Timo Werner.

World Cup record

18 ap­pear­ances

Cham­pi­ons in 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014

SWE­DEN

The Swedes have learnt to win with­out their best ever player Zlatan Ibrahi­movic, who re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball two years ago. The team showed a lot of char­ac­ter in the qualifying cam­paign and shocked Italy in the play­offs. Swe­den is ef­fec­tive with­out be­ing spec­tac­u­lar and can ace its ri­vals with the high­ball game. But the lack of a big star and the rel­a­tive in­ex­pe­ri­ence of its play­ers can hurt the side.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Robin Olsen, Kristof­fer Nord­feldt, Karl­johan Johnsson.

De­fend­ers: An­dreas Gran­qvist, Vic­tor Lin­delöf, Mikael Lustig, Lud­wig Augustinsson, Pon­tus Jans­son, Emil Krafth, Filip He­lander, Martin Ols­son.

Mid­field­ers: Se­bas­tian Lars­son, Gus­tav Svens­son, Al­bin Ek­dal, Emil Fors­berg, Vik­tor Claes­son, Jimmy Dur­maz, Mar­cus Ro­hden, Oscar Hil­je­mark.

For­wards: Mar­cus Berg, John Guidetti, Isaac Kiese­the­lin, Ola Toivo­nen.

World Cup record

11 ap­pear­ances

Run­ner­up in 1958

MEX­ICO

Mex­ico has not been able to over­come the curse of the fifth match since 1994. The Mex­i­cans play their own brand of pleas­ing, at­tack­ing foot­ball, but they have un­der­achieved de­spite hav­ing a posse of tal­ented foot­ballers in the past. Ranked 16th, Mex­ico breezed through the qual­i­fiers. Its Europe­based play­ers hold the key in Rus­sia, but the team has never beaten Swe­den or Ger­many in the World Cup. The young Ger­man side dec­i­mated Mex­ico in the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup

semifinals last year, and the loss will weigh heav­ily against the North Amer­i­can side when the two meet in the first match of the group.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Guillermo Ochoa, Al­fredo Talav­era, Je­sus Corona.

De­fend­ers: Diego Reyes, Carlos Sal­cedo, Hec­tor Moreno, Miguel Layun, Je­sus Gal­lardo, Hugo Ayala, Ed­son Al­varez.

Mid­field­ers: Hec­tor Her­rera, An­dres Guardado, Rafa Mar­quez, Jonathan dos San­tos, Marco Fabian, Gio­vani dos San­tos.

For­wards: Javier Aquino, Je­sus ‘Te­catito’ Corona, Raul Jimenez, Oribe Per­alta, Javier Her­nan­dez, Carlos Vela, Hirv­ing Lozano.

World Cup record

15 ap­pear­ances

Quar­ter­fi­nals in 1970, 1986

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea will need a mir­a­cle to qual­ify for the knock­out stage. The coun­try scraped through the qual­i­fiers, strug­gling with its leaky de­fence, and a lot will de­pend

on its Europe­based play­ers. South Korea has never won a match in the World Cup against its group ri­vals, and a re­peat show of 2002 looks un­likely.

Squad

Goal­keep­ers: Kim Se­ung­gyu, Kim Jin­hyeon, Cho

Hyun­woo.

De­fend­ers: Kim Young­gwon, Jang Hyun­soo, Jung Se­unghyun, Yun Yong­sun, Oh Ban­suk, Kim Min­woo, Park Joo­ ho, Hong Chul, Go Yo­han, Lee Yong .

Mid­field­ers: Ki Sung­yueng, Jung Woo­young, Ju Se­jong, Koo Ja­che­olm Lee Jae­sung, Lee Se­ung­woo, Moon Seon­min.

For­wards: Kim Shin­wook, Son He­ung­min, Hwang

Hee­chan.

World Cup record 9 ap­pear­ances Fourth in 2002

AFP

A young team: Ger­many, de­spite the loss of sev­eral veter­ans, has enough depth, as shown re­cently in the qual­i­fiers and in the FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup tri­umph in Rus­sia last year.

AFP

High po­ten­tial: The Mex­i­cans play their own brand of pleas­ing, at­tack­ing foot­ball, but they have un­der­achieved de­spite hav­ing a posse of tal­ented foot­ballers in the past.

AFP

Low odds: South Korea scraped through the qual­i­fiers, strug­gling with its leaky de­fence, and a lot will de­pend on its Europe­based play­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.