Sochi, June 22: Holders Germany will have to beat Sweden in order to avoid an early exit from the FIFA World Cup when the two sides meet in a crunch Group F clash at the Fisht Stadium on Saturday. Blessed with a strong squad brimming with talented players, Germany were hot contenders to become the first team in 56 years to retain the World Cup.
But after a shock 0-1 defeat to Mexico, the jolted four-time winners will have their task cut out against Sweden. A reversal will all but end their campaign.
"Everyone is aware that this is our first ‘final', it's annoying that it comes so early, but it's self-inflicted," team director Oliver Bierhoff was quoted as saying.
Germany were all over the place in the first half against Mexico and their heroics in Brazil four years ago seemed distant. After the defeat, there have been catcalls to drop under-performing players like Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
Sweden, meanwhile, will believe they can cause another upset after their confidence lifting 1-0 win over Korea Republic. This was their first win in the competition since hosting the tournament in 1958.
The Swedes are no strangers to upsetting the odds, beating France during qualification and getting past Italy in the play-offs, so an under-performing German side will hold no fears for Janne Anderson's men.
Germany probable starting lineup: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Plattenhardt; Gundogan, Kroos; Brandt, Muller, Draxler; Gomez.
Sweden probable starting lineup: Olsen; Lustig, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Jansson; Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Claesson; Berg, Toivonen.
Germany vs Sweden, 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F Match Prediction: Germany 2-1 Sweden (Inputs from IANS).