Who says international football is boring, when we have fixtures like this on hand?
There could not be a better way to kick-start this weekend for all football fans. With the International break underway, footballers are on International duty and they want to get in-sync with their teammates in preparation to the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which will commence at Russia in June.
Out of the lot, this one will certainly be an eye catcher. Spain travel to Germany to take on the defending World Cup Champions in Dusseldorf.
Boasting of the past, both Germany and Spain are the most recent World Cup holders.
Back in 2008, we witnessed the beginning of Spanish dominance over world football.
Germany finishing in third spot at their home World Cup in 2006 were looking to clinch their first European title in 12 years as they faced Spain in the finals of Euro 2008.
In the closely contested finals, Spain got the better off Germany by a solitary goal, which Fernando Torres scored. He was the player of the finals. This was their first Euro title and they did not stop there. Spain went on to win the 2010 World Cup and later on retained their European title at in 2012.
Spain added misery to the German’s back in the World Cup 2010 too, as they defeated them once again by the same score line in the semi-finals in South Africa. But, this dominance ended in 2014 at Brazil, where Spain did not manage to get through the group-stages of the World Cup. Could we consider that as the end of the invincible Spaniards? Highly doubt so, they could just have had their run of bad games and results not going in their favor.
Germany on the other hand, have been consistent over the past decade and have reached the semi-finals of all major international tournaments. Finishing third in both of the previous Euro’s held and currently stand as the defending World Cup champions. To add to this, Joachim Low has variable depth in his side and young talent is always adding to it.
Julen Lopetegui went on to replace long serving Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque last summer, and successfully guided the La Roja’s to the 2018 World Cup by winning their qualifying group without losing a single match. Spain has been unbeaten in their last 16 matches, since their exit at the Euro 2016 in France.
Germany however, having played more games than Spain are also unbeaten in their last 21 matches since losing to France in the semi-finals of Euro 2016. In the last encounter between the two, Germany beat Spain 1-0 in a friendly back in 2014.
Talking about squad depth, apart from Brazil and France, Germany and Spain are the other two teams who can roll out a starting XI with world-class players and at the same time have another eleven players who can play equally well.
Spanish defense consisting of Pique and Ramos will have to look out for the German attacks from Sane, Muller and Werner. The pass master – Ozil, will orchestrate the German midfield accompanied by Kroos and Khedira.
Well at the other end, Diego Costa will look to continue his fine form of scoring and get past the German defense of Boateng and Hummels. We can expect Iniesta, Isco and Silva to be at the heart of the game plays down the Spanish midfield.
Predicted Germany line-up (4-2-3-1):
Ter Stegen; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Ozil, Muller, Sane; Werner.
Predicted Spain line-up (4-3-2-1)
De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Isco, Saul, Iniesta; Silva, Asensio; Costa.
What to expect
Neither Germany nor Spain have lost a single game since Euro 2016. Germany being top contenders at the World Cup and this Spanish side having gained their rhythm under new manager Lopetegui; certainly makes this tie an entertaining one.
Germany may edge this one 1-0, riding on home advantage. Unless La Furia Roja, can manage to make their way pass this stubborn German defense.Published 23 Mar 2018, 01:33 IST