(Originally posted at Fansided.com in July, 2017)
Germany will meet Mexico in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup on June 29 in Sochi. Here’s what to expect in the match.
Germany finished first in Confederations Cup Group B on seven points. The reigning World Cup champions beat Australia and Cameroon while drawing with Chile, 1-1. Both Lars Stindl and Timo Werner notched two goals in the group stage, propelling the young German team into the semifinals.
Mexico finished Group A in second place, trailing Portugal only on goal difference. El Tri have had their hiccups defensively, but have scored timely goals to make it through. Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio has made a lot of personnel changes, and now has to decide on his best XI.
How did they get here?
Germany began their Confederations Cup by beating Australia 3-2. Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt were lively and exciting going forward, but the German’s defense provided reasons to worry. Keeper Bernd Leno let a tame 20-yard effort sneak under his gloves for the first goal, and spilled a save onto an onrushing Australian for the second.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen started in goal for the next match against Chile. Alexis Sanchez scored in the sixth minute to open the scoring, which gave him the all-time scoring record for Chile. Stindl equalized in the 41st minute to eventually earn Germany the point.
The German’s final match against Cameroon started slowly, but ended up being their most comfortable win. Germany scored all three of their goals in the second half, proving too much for Cameroon to handle. Werner scored twice to lead the victory.
Mexico started off the tournament by coming from behind twice against Portugal to earn a point. After scoring in the 86th minute to take a 2-1 lead, Portugal thought they had the match won. However, Hector Moreno scored his only goal of the tournament in the 91st minute to draw.
El Tri then scraped their way past New Zealand in the second match. Chris Wood’s 41st-minute strike opened the scoring for the Kiwis, but goals from Raul Jimenez and Oribe Peralta saw Mexico through. Ryan Thomas almost equalized, but his effort smacked off the bar late on. New Zealand have still not won a match in their Confederations Cup history.
Osorio’s side had to win or draw against hosts Russia to see them through in the final match of the group stage. They again fell behind early, but managed to go ahead in the second half through Hirving Lozano. The win drew them level on points with group leaders Portugal, just behind on goal difference.
How will they play?
Both Mexico and Germany made sweeping changes from match to match in the group stage. Osorio made eight changes from Portugal to New Zealand, and nine from New Zealand to Russia. Despite this, there are signs Osorio knows his best XI.
In the two more important matches of the group stage, Mexico have lined up similarly. Against Portugal and Russia, El Tri showcased a 4-3-3 with Guillermo Ochoa in goal. They briefly experimented with a back three against New Zealand, but a 4-3-3 is more likely on Thursday.
Mexico’s back four are nearly set. Miguel Layun will likely start at left-back, while Nestor Araujo and Moreno partner at center-back, with Diego Reyes as the right-back. Carlos Salcedo played as the right sided defender in the first two matches for Mexico, but is ruled out for the rest of the cup with a shoulder injury.
Both times Mexico played in a 4-3-3, the midfield consisted of Hector Herrera in the middle with Jonathan Dos Santos and Andres Guardado on his right and left. Expect Herrera and Dos Santos to man the midfield, but Guardado will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. Either Giovani Dos Santos or Javier Aquino will benefit from his suspension.
Up front, both Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela are likely to start. Chicharito is training separately ahead of the match due to muscle fatigue, but is on track to participate. On the opposite side, expect to see Hirving Lozano, as the youngster played well and notched a goal in the last match against Russia.
Germany also experimented with quite a few changes, but stuck with the same formation throughout the group stage. Joachim Low has consistently played with a back three, rotating players but not systems.
Ter Stegen started the last two matches, and looks set to make it three in a row. The rest of the squad is much harder to predict. It looks like the back three combination of Niklas Sule, Shkodran Mustafi and Matthias Ginter is the German’s strongest, but Antonio Rudiger could also play a factor in the middle.
Joshua Kimmich and Marvin Plattenhardt have served as the primary wing-backs in this formation. Low has started Sebastian Rudy and Emre Can centrally in the last two matches, and could partner them again.
Germany used a 3-4-2-1 formation against Chile and Cameroon, and played their best soccer with it. Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka play as the two attacking midfielders, while Werner or Stindl will play up front. Werner is coming off of a brace against Cameroon, so it might be safe to stick with him.
Both of these sides let in four goals in three matches in the group stage, so we could see a high-scoring thriller. Mexico’s defense has looked shaky throughout, and Germany have a young, inexperienced squad.
Mexico are dealing with a few key injuries and suspensions. Germany are nearly at full strength. That might just be enough for the German’s to pull this one off.
Germany 3-2 Mexico