Just as their predecessors did in earlier editions, World Cup holders Germany began the defence of their trophy without a win. Mexico’s 1-0 victory in that game saw Joachim Low’s men join France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 to not take three points from their opening game, meaning they will be desperate to triumph when their clash with Sweden at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi gets underway.
With their opponents having beaten South Korea in their own opening encounter, Germany sit third in Group F and have a lot of work to do if they are to progress to the knockout rounds, something their Coach is unquestionably aware of.
“Indeed it is disappointing to have lost the first match, it’s a situation we are not used to at all, in the many tournaments before we always won the first match but we have to accept this situation,” Low told reporters following the Mexico game. “Everyone is very unhappy but tomorrow we have to look forward. Our team has experience of dealing with losses, the next match will be decisive and we have to win it.”
Surprisingly, previous meetings between these two nations are finely balanced, with Germany boasting a record of 15 wins, eight draws and 13 losses. However, Sweden’s last win over 90 minutes came way back in a 1978 friendly with their last competitive triumph coming at the 1958 World Cup which was held on home soil.
The Scandinavian side have registered five losses and two draws in their last seven meetings with Die Mannschaft and are generous 6/1 outsiders with BetBright to take three points in this encounter. But they expect a very different approach from their opponents here as Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson explained at a press conference ahead of this crucial match.
“We know that Germany is a great football nation and we take them very seriously," he told reporters this week. "In the match against Mexico they didn’t really reach the standard we are used to seeing them at, but I think it was a wake up call for them and they will seek a comeback. So we have to be ready from the first minute.”
Sweden are too defensive and not as fast as Mexico on the counter, while their inability to finish off chances was evident in the win against South Korea, meaning they worryingly remain without a goal in their last 430 minutes of open play.
Germany must win to maintain their hopes of progressing, and BetBright offer odds of just 4/11 on them beating Sweden, which is certainly the most likely result given the quality available to Low and despite his team’s recent record that has seen them win just once in a very disappointing 2018.
While there is little value in backing the holders, there is no doubt that this game will see plenty of goalmouth action. Having played each other twice in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, their clashes saw a 4-4 draw and a 5-4 win for Germany, meaning there is a good chance of another high scoring affair here.
Backing a Germany triumph and a total of four goals or more is available at odds of 12/5 with William Hill, while the same bookmaker offers 9/5 for both teams to score, two options that are well worth considering given their past history.
While he is not the most obvious scoring threat for Bayern Munich, Thomas Muller’s record of finding the back of the net in a Germany shirt is simply undeniable. Still only 28, he has 10 World Cup goals to his name already, and is almost certain to add to that tally before this summer’s edition comes to an end.
Overall the versatile midfielder has scored an impressive 38 times in 92 appearances for Germany, but he has not struck since a friendly draw with Spain back in March, failing to trouble the goalkeeper in his last two outings.
That mini-drought is expected to come to an end here, with new bookmaker Karamba offering odds of 15/4 on Muller to be the first goal scorer or 6/5 on him to net at any time, two offers that deserve your attention if you're considering a wager.