The first international break of the season is here with a nail-biting entertainer as world champions Germany face Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier.
Germany will come into the qualifier having clinched the Confederations Cup with an ostensibly second-choice squad during the summer. Their team was strong then, but they will become stronger this time as a host of key players have returned to the fold.
Having won all six qualifiers so far in Group C, victory at Prague’s Eden Arena will leave Germany on the verge of confirming their place at Russia 2018 before hosting Norway in Stuttgart on Monday, when they could qualify if results go awry.
Interestingly, Germany’s last heavy defeat in qualifiers came ten years ago at the hands of Czech Republic when Loew’s men were humbled 3-0. However, the Germans exacted revenge last October when Czech were beaten by the same scoreline when the sides met in Hamburg.
Team News and Tactics
Patrik Schick has been left out of the Czech squad after having recently joined Roma from Sampdoria. However, uncapped Brondby striker Jan Kliment has been called up. Head coach Karel Jarolim has named a youthful squad, with only one player – Werder Bremen’s Theodor Gebre Selassie – aged over 30.
Czech have recorded two draws, two wins, and a loss in their last five matches. This only goes to show that their team form is currently quite strong, and that they will hope to pose a tough challenge to the Germans. The fact that they will enjoy the home advantage is likely to amplify their hunger to seal a victory.
The full backs for the Czechs will be instrumental against Germany. Both of them – Selassie and Kaderabek – play for German clubs and will be aware of their opponents quite well. While the duo can also help in creating goals, their main role will be largely defensive. Thus, they need to be at their best to prevent Germany from scoring early.
The hosts will be desperate to make an upset and pick up points against the group favourites because a potential defeat could likely mean goodbye to their World Cup ambitions since Northern Ireland would escape to a seven-point distance with their expected away win at San Marino on the same day.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Vaclik; Gebre Selassie, Novak, Kaderabek, Kalas; Dockal, Krejci, Darida, Zmrhal, Soucek; Krmencik.
Joachim Low has chosen to leave out Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi and new Juventus recruit Benedikt Howedes. Leroy Sane has also missed out while Jerome Boateng is unavailable due to an injury. Manuel Neuer has not been called up, despite being available.
Although Serge Gnabry was included in the original panel, he has been withdrawn from the squad due to an ankle injury, while Sami Khedira is also unavailable. Time and again, the Germans have proven that these setbacks do not matter to them because they have an enviable amount of depth in their squad.
Low took a huge risk with his decision to integrate fresh talent into his squad and they showed they are more than capable of making the step up by winning the Confederations Cup in the summer. Julian Draxler was undoubtedly the star of that tournament and the youngster will be a crucial part of Germany’s games to come.
Toni Kroos might not have taken part in any action this summer, but there is no doubt he is still one of the best players for the Germans. He can prove to be a key player against Czech due to his passing range and ability to control a game. The hosts are likely to play defensively, making Kroos an instrumental part of the squad.
Predicted lineup (3-4-3): Ter Stegen; Hector, Hummels, Rudiger, Kimmich; Can, Rudy, Draxler, Kroos, Ozil; Muller.
- Germany’s 3-0 win last October was the first time these teams have met in nearly nine years.
- In total, the Germans have beaten the Czechs five times out of seven, with the Czechs winning twice.
- The Germans enjoyed a whopping 66% possession throughout the match when these two teams met in October.
Czech Republic 0 – 2 Germany
Even though the match has a much greater importance for the hosts, the Germans are still likely to be massive favourites. Having already beaten the Czechs 3-0 in Hamburg last October thanks to a Kroos strike and a Muller double, the Germans will be confident of securing a positive result.
Additionally, the power of Czech Republic appear to be waning at the moment, and they just simply aren’t the powerhouse side they used to be. However, they can still be a threat since they have a lot of good players. Having said that, most of those players are vastly inexperienced in playing big matches – unlike the German team.
Czech will find lots of troubles to deliver on the other side of the court given that Die Mannschaft have only allowed a single goal in six opening qualifying fixtures in the group C. Thus, a game ending in a comfortable victory for Joachim Low’s squad seems to be the most likely outcome.