Mexico will have to face-off against a young German side in an intense semi-final match as both teams look to add more to their already glittering trophy cabinets.
Germany came into the tournament bereft of any of their stalwart stars of the 2010-2016 period and have yet managed to live up to expectations. Considering the inexperience of the young stars, there were certain doubts as to how they would fare but the Germans got through the group stage with ease.
The recorded comfortable wins over Australia and Cameroon which ensured their progress. Players like Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Kerem Demirbay are now contenders for World Cup selection, which goes to show how well they have played and Julian Draxler, in particular, has been impressive as he led the side as captain.
Mexico, on the other hand, have been diligent enough to overcome the one hurdle in the form of Russia and narrowly escaped a hiccup against New Zealand. They also showed excellent fighting spirit to snatch a late point in their opening game against Portugal.
Having netted two goals in each of their three games, the Mexicans promise to test a German defense that is yet to keep a clean sheet which is likely to pave the way for an intense semi-final match.
Team News and Tactics
Germany’s young squad was rotated a lot during the group phase so it’s quite hard to guess what Low will do here. Timo Werner will hope to retain his place up front after he netted a brace last time out while Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi could return to bolster the defense.
The young team defeated Cameroon by a comfortable 3-1 margin as the World Champions clinched the number one spot in Group B, scoring a total of 7 goals. The Cameroon win also extended Germany’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 matches with 10 wins and 3 draws.
In all these matches so far, one problem that Low needs to address is their defence. Defending may be their weakest area, much of which can be attributed to what comes across as a poor understanding between the players. Having said that, the flair and skill in their midfield and attack remains top-notch.
One important thing that Germany will have to do is to keep pushing and attacking to limit Mexico’s time on the ball since no team has had more average possession per game than Mexico in this tournament, and that can create problems for the Germans.
Low has changed up Die Mannschaft‘s formation during the tournament, employing either a 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-3 with two wide players in the form of Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector usually pushed fairly ahead. Regardless, the Germans will have to focus on strengthening their defence since that is one area of theirs that can be exploited.
Predicted lineup (3-4-2-1): Ter Stegen, Ginter, Mustafi, Rudiger, Hector, Can, Goretzka, Kimmich, Draxler, Stindl, Werner
Mexican star striker Javier Hernandez has is believed to be fine and likely to feature in this game. Left-sided midfielder Andres Guardado is suspended while centre-back Diego Reyes is a doubt after picking up an injury against Russia.
Mexico qualified as a runner up to Portugal in Group A after impressing in the 2-2 draw against them and will be wary of the fact that they might have to face Portugal again in the final if they do qualify.
Considering Mexico had to deal with setbacks in almost every game and fight back on several occasions to snatch a win, they are likely to be well prepared for the encounter against Germany.
Osorio’s main dilemma is likely to be the choice of formation since he might be tempted to use a 3-4-3, keeping in mind that Mexico have switched regularly to three center-backs over the Colombian’s time in charge. Their standard 4-3-3 can also easily switch to a 3-4-3 with Miguel Layun shifted further forward.
Additionally, El Tri’s primary focus should be on exploiting the weak areas of Germany’s defence and to retain as much possession as possible in order to frustrate their opponents.
Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Ochoa, Alanis, Moreno, Araujo, Layun, Dos Santos, Herrera, Aquino, Vela, Hernandez, Jimenez
- The last meeting between these two sides was back in the 2005 edition of the Confederations Cup, and that match saw Germany win 4-3 in extra time thanks to a Michael Ballack winner.
- Germany and Mexico have met four times in the past and Mexico have not won so far.
- Mexico have went behind in each of their three tournament matches to date but are yet to lose any of those matches.
Germany 3 – 2 Mexico
This will be another nail-biting match for sure but Mexico may not be able to recover from this one since Germany will not be an easy opponent to beat. The Mexicans stuttered against a relatively weak time like New Zealand and the Germans are the reigning world champions, after all.
With two attack-oriented teams on the pitch, goals will be scored but Germany is likely to emerge victorious due to their strength in the midfield and ability to finish off scoring chances.
Although Mexico have managed to fight back from a losing position in all three of their games so far, the Germans should have enough quality to win a high-scoring encounter despite having a weak defence.