Spain v Germany
In potentially the most eye-catching of all of the 2022 World Cup’s fixtures to date, Spain and Germany come head to head following contrasting results in the first round. While Luis Enrique’s team recorded their biggest ever World Cup victory with a 7-0 win over Costa Rica, Hansi Flick could only watch on in horror as his side fell to a shock 2-1 defeat to Japan despite having taken the lead.
That means that the pressure is certainly on the German side in this game. “We have no free shots anymore,” Flick told the media in a press conference on Thursday as he called upon his team to “show character” against Spain. The former Bayern Munich coach is expected to make sweeping changes to his side, but is still unlikely to have Leroy Sané available after a knee injury has limited his training this week.
This could mean Thilo Kehrer at right-back and shifting both Antonio Rudiger and Sule along, therefore dropping Schlotterbeck. Another option for Flick, which was also questioned by journalists, would be to play Joshua Kimmich at right-back, something he did at Bayern Munich, which would mean a midfield pivot of Leon Goretzka and Gundogan.
However, Spain know that there is no room for complacency among their squad, despite the rout that they enjoyed against Costa Rica. “This group won’t relax, and there will be changes in the line-up,” Luis Enrique insisted when asked if they could take their foot off the gas in Sunday’s encounter.
A defeat for Germany would see them lose three consecutive World Cup games for the first time in their history. Against what is a poor Costa Rica side, Luis Enrique’s Spain looked impressive with Pedri, Gavi et al. but Sunday’s game will be an interesting tactical battle. A game in which Germany must avoid defeat, expect Die Mannschaft to have improved defensively from their capitulation against Japan.
If one name in the attacking line is guaranteed a starting spot against Germany, it seems likely to be Barcelona ace Ferran Torres. He has started 13 of Spain’s last 15 competitive fixtures when fit, and was among the first players to be taken off on 57 minutes against Costa Rica as Luis Enrique rested some of his key players.
The forward initially got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot for Spain in that opening match, but he also added another goal in open play and maintained an impressive average of 1.28 shots on target per 90 for his country.
Full of confidence after that debut against Costa Rica, Ferran won’t hold back from trying his luck up against one of Germany’s weak links at left-back in David Raum.
Although Leroy Sane is expected to be fit enough to feature against Spain, it’s unlikely he’ll start ahead of his Bayern Munich teammate. Serge Gnabry completed 89 minutes against Japan and expect him to play close to 90 minutes against Spain. In Germany’s 2-1 defeat against Japan, Gnabry always looked to progress the ball on the right-side of a 4-2-3-1, often drifting centrally. The 27-year-old had 6 shots and created 2 chances, and so it’s evident that Gnabry is always in the thick of the action. Spain will look to dominate but if they lose the ball, expect Gnabry to capitalise on any space left by Jordi Alba.
Against Japan, Gnabry had five shots, three of which hit the target. For Bayern Munich across all competitions this season, Gnabry averaged 3.6 shots per 90, 2 of which find the target. He also plays a similar role for club and country and excelled under Flick during their time together at Bayern. Expect Gnabry to be a key player for Germany. He will be highly involved in anything Germany do in the attacking third.
Even though Costa Rica hardly had the ball against Spain, finishing with just 18% possession, they still had enough of it for Jordi Alba to commit one foul.
That is something the left-back does almost every game, having committed at least one foul in seven of his past eight competitive matches. Over the whole season, it works out at 0.94 fouls per 90 minutes for the Barça and Spain defender.Jordi Alba is likely to start again for Spain as they take on Germany, hence why he was one of the players substituted off on Wednesday for a rest, and he’ll be going up against Serge Gnabry this time. That’s a clear step up and, as the defensive weak link for Spain, Jordi Alba could be targeted.
As well as scoring seven goals in their opener against Costa Rica, Spain set records in terms of their passing as Luis Enrique’s side attempted 1,043 passes, completing 976 of them. The player with the second-most passes was Rodri, who attempted 140 and who completed 137.
Rodri, therefore, did exactly what he was supposed to do in the centre-back position where Luis Enrique had placed him. There are a few reasons why Rodri was deployed in central defence, from his understanding with club teammate Aymeric Laporte to his underrated aerial presence, but the main reason was his passing.
While Germany won’t allow Spain to post passing numbers like they did against Costa Rica, we can still expect Spain to adopt a possession-first approach and we can expect Rodri to register a lot of passes bringing the ball out from the centre-back spot. Even if he attempts half the passes he did last game, this bet still comes in.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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