Germany and Mexico will begin their World Cup campaigns at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, but who are the three players to look out for?
Day Four of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will see Germany finally begin the defence of their title, when they meet Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday. Something will have to give as the two heavy hitters of Group F go head to head, but who are the three players who are worth keeping an eye on? The Hard Tackle takes a look.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup was memorable for more than one reason for Germany. They didn’t just go all the way to lift the Jules Rimet trophy, but also saw Miroslav Klose grab the all-time goalscoring record earlier in the campaign, making the triumph doubly sweet. Post then though, initial doubts emerged as to the true successor to Klose, especially with Mario Gomez past his best.
Those doubts have been well and truly put to rest over the last couple of years by a talented winger-turned-striker, who has been taking German football by storm. Timo Werner is a consistent striker who lends balance to an already complete Germany side, leaving Thomas Muller to put his talents to use on the right side of the attack.
The RB Leipzig striker best showcased his talents at the Confederations Cup last year, finishing the tournament as the joint-top scorer as Die Mannschaft completed part of their World Cup warmup in style. As Joachim Low’s men look to defend their title, Werner’s speedy runs and clinical finishing will go a long way, starting Sunday, with a tricky game against Mexico to begin their campaign.
There are certain talents in the game that just ooze class in whatever they do with the ball at their feet. Lozano is one such talent that has had the eyes of football fans across the world set firmly on him ever since he made his senior debut at the club level and scored his first ever goal from twenty yards out.
The excitement around him has only grown exponentially over the course of a stunning maiden season with PSV, with whom he won the Eredivisie title, top scoring for the club with 17 goals in 29 outings. With a blistering change of pace, he can be a hard man to catch. With a clinical finishing ability, his threat can be hard to deal with.
But, while he has a lot of things going for him, “Chucky” will need to keep his volatile temperament in check if things start going south. Nevertheless, a breakout campaign on the international level beckons, with Lozano the X-Factor for Mexico, if they are to shock Germany and potentially reach the elusive “5th game” in Russia.
A place in the country’s World Cup squad can lead to a lot of emotions – ecstasy, joy, excitement and even relief. And, if there’s one player among the 736 present in Russia who will be more relieved than anyone else, it’s got to be Marco Reus.
The Borussia Dortmund man was on top of the world as Germany prepared for the 2014 World Cup, set to be the star of Die Mannschaft’s campaign. But, an untimely injury put paid to his hopes and he had to watch the tournament from the hospital bed. Similar problems ensued ahead of Euro 2016 and an injury marred 2017-18 club campaign could have ended with exclusion from the 2018 World Cup squad.
But, to his relief, Reus was picked in the final 23-man squad by Low, who called him the X-Factor of the German squad. His versatility certainly makes him an asset and at his best, there are still very few players who can match his ability on the field. A fit-again Reus, therefore, only spells good news for Germany.