Joachim Loew can maintain his proud decade-long record of steering Germany to the semi-finals at major tournaments with a draw against Cameroon today enough to reach the last four of the Confederations Cup.
Since Loew took charge as head coach after Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup on home soil, the team has always reached the semi-finals at either European championships or World Cup finals.
The world champions take on Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium on Sunday while Chile play Australia in Moscow in the final round of Group B games. Germany are second to Chile in the table only by a single goal with both teams on four points while Cameroon and Australia have a point each.
While Germany need a point in Sochi, Cameroon must win by two clear goals to progress.
“A draw would be enough for us to go through, but it would be good to win the group so we’d play our semi-final in Sochi,” said Loew. “I’m planning a few changes in a position or two, some will get a break to allow fresh faces to come in.”
Germany have won two of the three previous meetings and there was a 2-2 draw when the teams last met in a pre-World Cup friendly in 2014. A year before the World Cup, Loew took the gamble of leaving all of his World Cup-winning stars at home to blood fringe players.
The move has paid off with forward Lars Stindl scoring in both Monday’s 3-2 win over Australia and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Chile leaving him as the Confed Cup’s top-scorer.
Loew’s young side has so far been convincing in Russia. They dominated Australia for the first hour in Sochi, then weathered a Socceroos fight back, while in Kazan against Chile they showed guts in fighting back after conceding an early goal. Loew opted to make no changes against Chile — the first time a German coach has done that in an international since 1995 — saying he wanted his team to “tough it out”.
With first-choice shot-stopper Manuel Neuer recovering from foot surgery, Loew is
expected to again rotate his goalkeeper with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp set to start. Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is Germany’s only injury concern after a training knock. The 23-year-old, who impressed in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Chile, went down ahead of the German’s final Group B match in Sochi. The German camp is hoping Can will be able to feature at the Fischt Stadium where the world champions need a point to reach the semi-finals. “Emre Can went over in training, he caught his studs on the grass,” said Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew. “It doesn’t appear to be anything big, but we’ll see how he responds.”
The Germans are second in the table on goal difference behind Chile with both teams on four points. Copa America winners Chile face Australia, who like Cameroon also have just one point from their two games, today in Moscow. The Germans hope to win the group, enabling them to stay in Sochi for Thursday’s semi-final and have an extra day’s rest. Finishing second would mean a semi-final in Kazan on Wednesday against the Group A winners. “You avoid another day of travel and have a day more break,” said midfielder Leon Goretzka. “It is not the worst thing in the world when you get a view of the sea at meal-times. “Cameroon is a physically very strong team. “We will try to move the ball around quickly so that Cameroon players don’t get into one-on-one situations.”
Cameroon coach Hugo Broos fielded the same starting line-up for both their opening defeats.
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