In-form Sweden striker Emil may shock struggling defending champions .
Sochi : An early German exit from the World Cup seems unthinkable, but that could be the grim reality for the reigning champions unless they get the better of Sweden this weekend. Still, at least they know exactly where the danger is coming from.
The main creative threat in Janne Andersson’s principally solid, unspectacular side lies in the shape of Emil Forsberg, one of the most talented wide attackers in Europe.
“I’m a big fan of Emil Forsberg, he’s a great player,” said Germany defender Mats Hummels when asked if anyone in the Scandinavians’ side could make it into the World Cup holders’ line-up.
Bayern Munich defender Hummels and his international teammates are well placed to comment on Forsberg’s ability.
The 26-year-old has come to Russia on the back of two outstanding seasons in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig, and on Saturday evening, at the Fisht Stadium by the Black Sea, he will come up against a German side featuring his club colleague Timo Werner.
The Germans came early to Sochi to acclimatise to the heat as they look to stave off talk of a crisis following their 1-0 defeat to Mexico, with which they began their trophy defence.
In contrast, the Swedes — who stunned Italy in a play-off to qualify — travel down the coast from their peaceful base in the resort of Gelendzhik in rather more buoyant mood after beating South Korea 1-0.
If Mexico beat the Koreans earlier on Saturday, a draw for Sweden against the Germans would probably condemn Joachim Loew’s side to an early exit in Group ‘F’ — Sweden could then play against the Mexicans in their final game knowing a point would take them both through.
The Germans have work to do after a disjointed opening performance. Worryingly, they were especially exposed at full-back, with Joshua Kimmich posted missing time and again on the right.
Mexico’s goal came from their left-winger Hirving Lozano.
Forsberg, who has been linked with a big-money move to the Premier League, did not stand out against South Korea as Sweden won thanks to an Andreas Granqvist penalty.
So he may feel he has something to prove against Germany. “We don’t play as Mexico play, we are not the same type of players,” was captain Granqvist’s assessment of the game.
He said the team needed to stay solid, as they did in qualifying matches, especially against Italy and France.
GERMANY: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp, Marvin Plattenhardt, Jonas Hector, Matthias Ginter, Mats Hummels, Niklas Suele, Antonio Rudiger, Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich, Sami Khedira, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Sebastian Rudy, Julian Brandt, Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Marco Reus, Timo Werner, Mario Gomez.
COACH: Joachim Loew, started his playing career with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg in 1978. He returned to the club twice (1982, 1985) and holds the club’s overall goal scoring record.
SwEDEN: Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Robin Olsen, Ludwig Augustinsson, Andreas Granqvis, Filip Helander, Pontus Jansson, Emil Krafth, Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelof, Martin Olsson, Viktor Claesson, Jimmy Durmaz, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Oscar Hiljemark, Sebastian Larsson, Marcus Rohden, Gustav Svensson, Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Isaac Kiese Thelin, Ola Toivonen.
COACH: Janne Andersson previously managed Alets IK, Laholms FK and Halmstads BK. He took over Orgryte IS in December 2009, they were already relegated to the Swedish Second division.