Germany will be looking to extend their lead atop the Group C standings when the face Azerbaijan in the World Cup qualifiers.
The World champions have looked the part since the commencement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, and are all but set to achieve the improbable and defend their crown in Russia next year.
After suffering a painful 2-0 defeat at the hands of France in the penultimate stage of the European Championships last year, Joachim Low’s side are yet to concede a goal. They have been phenomenal ever since, and now sit with 12 points from four qualifying matches.
It is safe to say that a win in Baku would go a long way towards securing qualification for the 2018 World Cup, particularly due to the erratic form of the likes of Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic.
Azerbaijan sit in a respectable third position themselves as they have picked up seven points from their first four qualifying matches. This will be the first time they face Germany in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and could have their work cut out, given the quality of the opposition.
Team News and Tactics
Going into this game as underdogs, Azerbaijan are lucky to have a majority of their first-team players available for selection. Kamran Aghayev is likely to start in goal with Magomed Mirzabekov and Arif Dasdamirov playing as right and left full-backs.
A midfield trio of Eddi Israfilov, Gara Garayev and Rahid Amirquliyev is likely to be deployed by head-coach Robert Prosinecki, while Ruslan Qurbanov, Aghabala Ramazanov and Dimitri Nazarov will take up positions in the final third of the pitch.
Azerbaijan Probable XI: Aghayev; Mirzabekov, Medvedev, Sadygov, Dasdamirov; Israfilov, Garayev, Amirquliyev; Qurbanov, Ramazanov, Nazarov
The Germans will be missing the services of midfielder Julian Weigl and number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who are both injured. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, too, appears to be a major doubt going into this game.
That being said, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be more than happy to start in goal with a back four of Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rudiger, Mats Hummels and Jonas Hector likely to be ahead of him.
Due to the absence of Weigl, Sami Khedira is likely to partner Toni Kroos to form a double pivot in midfield. while the likes of Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller and Julian Draxler are expected to don the more attacking spots. Mario Gomez is likely to lead the line for Die Mannschaft.
Germany Probable XI: Ter Stegen; Kimmich, Rudiger, Hummels, Hector; Can, Kroos; Sane, Muller, Draxler; Gomez
- Germany are yet to concede a single goal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and will be looking to extend their run of consecutive clean sheets in all international matches to nine.
- The last time these two sides met was in European Championships Qualifiers when Germany beat Azerbaijan 9-2 on aggregate over two legs.
- In fact, Germany have won in each of their four games against Sunday’s opponents, and are expected to make it five out five.
- Sami Khedira will captain the side in the absence of Neuer. Low confirmed the same in the pre-match press conference.
- Thomas Muller is the top scorer for Germany in the qualifying stages as he has bagged four goals in as many games for Die Mannschaft.
Player to watch
Muller has not been in the best of form for Bayern Munich this term, but has always known to deliver on the international stage for Germany.
Gomez is set to lead the line with Muller in-behind him, but the Bayern attacker will also have to make surging runs into the box and also drift out on the flanks on certain occasions. The Azerbaijani defenders will be closely marking him, and could prove to be difficult for him to find a way through.
Azerbaijan 0 – 3 Germany
The Germans are clearly the better side in every aspect of the pitch, and it will be a massive achievement even if Azerbaijan manage to find the back of the bet.
Low’s team is one of the most organised and industrious in world football, and could have a field day if their opponents fail to show up on Sunday. The likes of Gomez, Muller, Draxler and Sane will fancy their chances at goal, and every one of them could eventually end up on the scoresheet.