Joachim Low praises Germany stars for not losing their nerve against Sweden

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Going for the World Cup double: Joachim Low.

Germany coach Joachim Low praised his players for keeping their nerve during a “roller coaster ride” as a late 2-1 win over Sweden reignited their World Cup hopes.

The defending champions’ chances of making the knockout stages looked slim as, after Marco Reus’ goal cancelled out Marcus Berg’s opener, Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second bookable offence.

However, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos scored deep into five minutes of added time to put them back on track in Group F.

“Something I did appreciate today is that we didn’t lose our nerves and break out in panic after conceding a goal. We kept a level head,” said Low, who revealed midfielder Sebastian Rudy broke his nose after being accidentally caught by a boot in the first half.

“We never lost hope. Obviously the goal we scored in stoppage time was a bit lucky but it is always a result of our belief in ourselves.

“I was very pleased for him (Kroos) because he was involved in the mistake which led to Sweden’s goal.

“Of course this was a thriller, full of emotions and a roller coaster ride right up to the final whistle.

“We have to play against South Korea in order to be sure we make it to the next round and then everything is open, we will take it as it comes.”

Germany’s wild celebrations at Kroos’ winner were criticised by Sweden coach Janne Andersson, who felt he and his backroom staff were disrespected.

“Some of the Germany leaders on the team celebrated by running in our direction and rubbing it into our faces by making gestures,” he said.

“That really got me really annoyed and angry. There were many people on our bench who were very annoyed.

“People behaved in ways that you don’t do.”

However, Low played down suggestions their actions had been inflammatory.

“I didn’t see any aggressive gestures directed at the Swedish bench at all,” he added.

“I didn’t witness that because after the final whistle we fell into each others’ arms and hugged each other we were so elated.”

Andersson was also unhappy his side were not awarded a penalty early in the first half when Boateng appeared to catch Berg as he ran through on goal.

Polish referee Szymon Marciniak was in no mood to either award a spot-kick or consult VAR and the Sweden boss felt that was a mistake.

“I’m not going to cast any blame – I haven’t watched the situation myself – I can only refer you to the people on our team who have said this is a clear penalty,” he said.

“If we had got that penalty awarded that is possibly what we might have needed to cope with a team like Germany.

“If we have this (VAR) system it is is unfortunate he (Marciniak) feels so secure in the live situation he doesn’t go and have a look.”

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Robert Lewandowski vs Radamel Falcao headline the key player battles in Poland's World Cup clash against Colombia

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Lewandowski and Falcao will take centre stage on Sunday.

Poland and Colombia both go into Sunday’s face-off needing a win to kick-start their respective World Cup campaigns.

The two Group H favourites both lost their opening games, making their meeting a near must-win clash for both sides, and the players will want to step up and take on that responsibility.

Here are the key player battles which will determine the game.

Robert Lewandowski vs Radamel Falcao

Lewandowski had a poor performance against Senegal in Poland’s loss. He had fewer touches of the ball than the Senegal goalkeeper, and rarely got into position to be a real threat for his side. Poland’s playmakers were nullified, which had an impact on Lewandowski’s display, but he needs to step it up to save his country’s World Cup hopes.

In contrast, Falcao’s only failure in Colombia’s loss to Japan was that he fell just short of being brilliant. He led the line admirably considering his side were down to 10 men only three minutes into the game. It was his work that earned the free-kick from which Colombia scored their goal, typical of his display in that game.

Jakub Blaszczykowski vs James Rodriguez

Blaszczykowski was another whose performance was sub-par in the loss to Senegal. Tasked with being one of the creative forces for his side, he offered neither incisive passing nor threatening running down the flanks. His waning pace is a factor in the latter case, but he can provide better inter-play with his team-mates and better service for Lewandowski.

James was unable to start for Colombia against Japan as he was carrying a calf injury, and although he looked lively after coming on as a second-half substitute, he had little real impact. But he’s likely to start on Sunday, and he knows the responsibility of leading his team to victory, and saving their World Cup hopes, lies with him.

Lukasz Piszczek vs Santiago Arias

The Borussia Dortmund right-back put in an awful display against Senegal, looking overrun by the opposition attack and not providing enough thrust going forward. His defensive shakiness is something Colombia will target, James especially as he likes drifting out to the wings. If Piszczek can’t hit the levels he finds often for his club, Poland will be in trouble.

Santiago Arias delivered a fighting performance as part of a back-line put under extra pressure by the early red card to midfielder Carlos Sanchez against Japan. His attacking impact was limited, but he defended well for the most part, although it was he who was beaten for Japan’s winner. He’ll want to atone for that error on Sunday.

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Neymar totally recovered from metatarsal injury, says Brazil's team doctor

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Neymar has had an emotional return from injury for Brazil.

Neymar has “totally recovered” from the injury that kept him out for three months at the end of the club season, according to Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar.

“I would like everyone to understand Neymar’s situation, and that he no longer has any problem with his right foot,” Lasmar told journalists on Saturday at Brazil’s World Cup training base in Sochi.

“He has totally recovered but he is still building up his rhythm and his confidence. He is feeling better with every game.”

There were fears that he was still feeling the effects of the metatarsal fracture he’d suffered while on duty for Paris Saint-Germain in February after he limped out of training last week following Brazil’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland in their tournament opener.

However, he started their second game and scored Brazil’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica.

“The problem with his left ankle is not something that worries us. Tomorrow (Sunday) he will train normally with the rest of the players,” Lasmar added.

Concerns over Neymar’s fitness have also been heightened due to the treatment that has been meted out to the Brazil star in Russia, after he was fouled 10 times against Switzerland and another four times against Costa Rica.

Lasmar echoed those complaints, saying, “Opponents commit fouls to try to stop him. We expect the refereeing to contain that.”

Meanwhile, Juventus winger Douglas Costa, who came on at halftime of Brazil’s win over Costa Rica, has been ruled out of the team’s final group match, against Serbia, with a thigh injury.

Brazil need to draw that game to secure their spot in the Round of 16.

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