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Five Things We Learned From Germany’s Surprise Defeat To Mexico

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Hirving Lozano of Mexico celebrates with team mate Andres Guardado of Mexico after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Defending champions Germany began their 2018 World Cup campaign on Sunday afternoon against Mexico in Group F.

With Jogi Low’s side seen by many as the favourites to leave Russia with the trophy, the pressure is certainly on for the 2014 champions to complete that rarest of feats by retaining the famous cup. Their first opponent on the way to that were Mexico, who were seen as one of the three remaining sides looking to finish in the runners-up spot.

What followed in Moscow was a strong show of confidence by Mexico and a morale-boosting (and fully deserved) 1-0 victory, while a beaten Germany side have some big questions to answer.

 

Jogi Low made a mess of his tactical setup

Trying to fit so many individual superstars is a problem that has befallen France manager Didier Deschamps, but one would have assumed that Germany manager Jogi Low would have had his team figured out by now.

And yet, the tactical setup against Mexico would have suggested otherwise. Much was made ot the omission of Leroy Sane – calls that will grow louder now – and yet many of the issues that Germany faced stemmed from the personnel in their style of play. Getting the ball wide and into the box wasn’t an issue for Julian Draxler or Thomas Muller, but the choice of striker didn’t suit that system at all.

Had Low opted for Mario Gomez instead of Timo Werner, then he might have found that the system might have worked that bit better. As it was, it just looked muddled and devoid of any coherence.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Timo Werner of Germany in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

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The lack of leadership in Germany was evident

How a team can look old and slow, and yet lacking in leadership and experience at the same time, is quite the achievement – and yet Germany managed that here.

For the most part, it was ponderous and laborious and suited Mexico perfectly. The likes of Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira should have stepped up to the plate and guided relative competitive international newbies such as Werner and Marvin Plattenhardt through the match and that never happened.

Analysts such as RTE’s Didi Hamann had previously suggested that a relative lack of leadership could be Germany’s undoing at these finals, and that looks as though it might turn out to be the case.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Thomas Mueller of Germany reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

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Their defence will be punished by more ruthless teams

The most startling aspect of Germany’s play here was their lack of discipline at the back. Time and again their backline was caught out by blistering Mexican counter-attacks and, were the opponents that bit more ruthless, they would have conceded far more than just one goal.

Khedira, the man whose job it was to protect that defence, was nowhere to be seen at times as Mexico’s attacks threatened to overrun the champions at will. If anything, the scoreline might have flattered Germany as Mexico wasted a number of fine chances on the counter.

Sweden and South Korea probably won’t be the biggest threats to a defence that suddenly looks shaky and devoid of confidence, but the giants that Germany face in the knockout stages won’t be quite so forgiving.

Germany's defender Jerome Boateng runs with the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17, 2018. (Photo by Juan Mabromata / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Mexico have the ability and confidence to win this group

For all of the German problems on show, take nothing away from the Mexican performance. Juan Carlos Osorio’s side were confident, brave, and were full value for their result.

They took to the game to the world champions, didn’t accept their would-be status of second-best here and set the tone for the match with some brilliant early attacking play. From there, they had Germany rattled and fully deserved the goal from Hirving Lozano when it came.

Indeed, but for their wastefulness in front of goal and on the break, the score could have been more emphatic. As it is, however, they’ll gladly take the 1-0 win and go from there.

Not to suggest that they are now the favourites to win this group now, but they’ll certainly feel as though they have a serious chance to go from here and take charge of this pool and emerge on top.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17:  Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico celebrates after Hirving Lozano scored a goal to make it 0-1 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

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Sweden and South Korea’s confidence of progression will have grown

Ultimately, this group all of a sudden has much more of an open feel to it. As we saw with Argentina on Saturday, all it takes is one match in which the favourites look a bit shaky and the rest can start to smell blood.

Sweden and South Korea face each other on Monday, and the winner of that tie will surely now feel as though they can make a very strong argument for progression to the last 16. Picking a top two from Group F just became a lot harder.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.