Low's midfield conundrum and other tactical talking points as Germany face Mexico

Aditya Devavrat 08:37 17/06/2018
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Plenty on the minds of the Mexico and Germany managers.

Joachim Low and Juan Carlos Osorio couldn’t be entering the World Cup in more differing fashion. The Germany manager leads a side who have an excellent chance of repeating as champions, and coming off the back of a Confederations Cup triumph in 2016.

Osorio, on the other hand, has faced heavy criticism from Mexico’s demanding fans, hearing jeers during their 1-0 win over Scotland in their final match on home turf before the tournament.

Here’s a look at the key dilemmas facing each manager.

PROBLEM OF PLENTY IN GERMANY’S MIDFIELD

How do you select two players between Ilkay Gundogan, Toni Kroos, and Sami Khedira? Most managers would love to have this dilemma, but for the one who does it’s not an easy one to answer.

At the moment, Gundogan is likely to be the odd one out. His best quality – his distribution – is the same as Kroos’, while Khedira provides an energy and defensive reading of the game that neither of the other two can match.

However, Kroos thrives next to Luka Modric at club level, and Gundogan could similarly bring out the best in the Real Madrid man.

Can Gundogan and Kroos play together?

Can Gundogan and Kroos play together?

DOES OSORIO GO BOLD OR PLAY IT SAFE?

Osorio’s preferred formation is a 4-3-3 but he does have the tendency to mix things up, especially against favoured opponents. Switching to 3-4-3 helped Mexico beat Uruguay at the Copa America in 2016, and he might be tempted to go with that again on Sunday.

The risk for Osorio lies with his defence. His preference for a high line is an issue even when he opts for a 4-3-3, but it will be even more so with three at the back. And then there’s the quality and speed of Germany’s attack. Does Osorio play it safe, or throw caution to the wind?

Osorio has a big decision to make against the world champions.

Osorio has a big decision to make against the world champions.

LACK OF GOALS ON LOW’S MIND

Germany seemed to have applied handbrakes on themselves, scoring only four times in their first five pre-World Cup friendlies before putting two past Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up match. For a team that scored 43 times in 10 qualifiers, it’s a troubling run, especially considering the attacking talent at hand.

Hopefully it’s just a case of leaving something in reserve for the tournament proper, but the lack of goals must be a concern at the back of Low’s mind. How does he get them back to doing what they do best – a free-flowing attack, greater than the sum of its parts?

Germany's attack hasn't been at its flowing best in recent games.

Germany’s attack hasn’t been at its flowing best in recent games.

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