Germany vs Sweden: World Cup 2018 Match Preview

The shock result of the first round of World Cup fixtures saw defending champions Germany beaten by Mexico by a goal to nil. Joachim Low’s side were made to look vulnerable in a way we are simply not accustomed to, and that outcome has really opened up a group which appeared to be rather predictable before the action got underway.

Surprise scorelines can happen at any level of the game, but the biggest surprise on Sunday was that Germany fully deserved to lose to a bold and bright Mexico side. Die Mannschaft were continually torn apart on the counter-attack, with the advanced positions of right-back Joshua Kimmich and central midfield duo Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira ensuring their opponents were afforded plenty of space in front of the German defence.

Kroos, Kimmich and Khedira did not have the mobility to match the flying runs of Hector Herrera, Miguel Layun, Carlos Vela and goalscorer Hirving Lozano, while lone striker Javier Hernandez’s link-up play was brilliant and allowed him to get the better of centre-halves Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.

It is certainly too early for Low to panic, and it is worth remembering that this Germany team were also tested – albeit not beaten – against Ghana and Algeria at the last World Cup, which they ended up winning. Yet their performance at the weekend was a real concern and it is only natural that their odds of lifting the trophy have lengthened as a consequence, even if qualification for the next stage remains in their hands.

Germany set to win with under 2.5 goals

Sweden joined Mexico on three points after their 1-0 defeat of South Korea, given to them by Andreas Granqvist’s penalty in the second half. Janne Andersson’s charges were happy to stand off and sit in their compact defensive shape in the opening stages, but they gradually took control of the match and it was they who created the better chances.

Emil Forsberg and Albin Ekdal are both technically gifted footballers, but Sweden’s major plus points are their organisation, work ethic and discipline, while the fact they have a well-defined game plan is another advantage.

All eyes will be on Germany to see how the holders respond at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. Low may make personnel changes to his personnel, but Sweden will struggle to match the counter-attacking speed and dynamism Mexico managed last time out. Indeed, Andersson’s side are more comfortable when sitting deep and packing men behind the ball, so the Germans will need plenty of creativity to dislodge a resilient setup.

Sweden did brilliantly to qualify for the World Cup, finishing ahead of the Netherlands and Bulgaria in their group before overcoming Italy in the playoffs, keeping clean sheets both home and away against the four-time world champions.

They are thus capable of making life difficult for Germany this weekend, but the quality at die Mannschaft’s disposal should ultimately prove too much. A German triumph in a tight game featuring fewer than 2.5 goals (3.60) looks like the way to go in this one.

By Greg Lea

After many years of sports writing with emphasis on football, including a stint at Sky Sports, Greg is here to help you with betting tips. Follow him on Twitter @greglea to get the latest updates before placing your bets.