The Bavarian Collective: How should Germany line up against Sweden?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA JUNE 17: Manuel Neuer , Toni Kroos , Marvin Plattenhardt, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Jérôme Boateng ( back L-R) , Julian Draxler , Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Timo Werner, Mesut Özil (front L-R) of Germany during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium Moscow in Moscow, Russia on June, 17, 2018. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA JUNE 17: Manuel Neuer , Toni Kroos , Marvin Plattenhardt, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Jérôme Boateng ( back L-R) , Julian Draxler , Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Timo Werner, Mesut Özil (front L-R) of Germany during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium Moscow in Moscow, Russia on June, 17, 2018. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

Germany face off against against Sweden in their second World Cup match on Saturday in need of a big win. What should Joachim Low’s starting XI be for the all-important match?

The majority of Bayern Munich‘s World Cup representatives play under Joachim Low with the German national team. The Germans were embarrassingly defeated 1-0 by Mexico on Sunday, putting their World Cup repeat hopes in jeopardy.

Changes must be made before Die Mannschaft take on Sweden on Saturday. Should those changes be in mentality alone? Or does Joachim Low need to make changes to his starting XI? If so, do those changes need to be wholesale? Or are a few simple changes enough?

We asked four of our writers to give their take. How should Germany line up for their critical match against Sweden on Saturday?

Benjamin Scott

"WernerDraxler – Muller – ReusKroos – GoretzkaHector – Hummels – Boateng – KimmichNeuer"

Germany were dreadful against Mexico, plain and simple. Although the squad was disappointing all around, one name in particular stood out for all the wrong reasons: Sami Khedira. The Juventus midfielder has been past his prime for some time now, and it’s hard to justify Joachim Low keeping him in the starting XI.

He should instead be replaced by future Bayern man Leon Goretzka. The former Schalke number eight is a dynamic box-to-box midfielder capable of putting in work at both ends of the pitch. Goretzka was one of the stars of last summer’s Confederations Cup and could be equally as effective for his country at this summer’s tournament. His inexhaustible energy and tireless work rate make him a much more fitting partner to the more elegant Toni Kroos than the aging Khedira.

Further up the pitch, one change in personnel is in order. Mesut Ozil should be dropped in favor of Marco Reus, finally fit for a major international tournament. Thomas Muller moves from the right flank to the center of the park, where he should be infinitely more productive. Reus fills in, providing a true threat from the wing, and all is good in attack once again.

Julian Brandt was impressive in his short cameo against Mexico, but Draxler gets the nod based on experience. He’s earned a place in the starting XI for Germany, but if he doesn’t produce Low can’t waste time in bringing on fresh legs.

Kiran Thakare

"Werner – MullerReusGundogan – Khedira – KroosHector – Hummels – Boateng – KimmichNeuer"

Germany suffered a shock defeat against Mexico in their first game of the World Cup. The defending Champions were all over the place defensively and lucky to lose the game by only one goal. Joachim Low needs to make necessary changes to ensure Germany qualify for the next round by winning their games against South Korea and Sweden.

Manuel Neuer will continue in goal despite a pretty poor error for the goal against Mexico. Jerome Boateng was the only player who was defensively sound in the first game. He keeps his place in the lineup and partners Mats Hummels in the heart of the defense. Joshua Kimmich was very good while going forward, but he left a lot of open space behind him. He should start against Sweden, but his positioning should be better than what it was last week. Jonas Hector is likely to be fit for this game after missing out against Mexico due to illness. He will provide some much needed solidity on the left hand side.

Low needs to find a better balance in midfield in order to provide defensive security. The German manager should revert to a three-man midfield for the last two games of the group. Sami Khedira playsthe holding midfield role, while Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos feature as the two central midfielders in this formation.

I would personally like Germany to field a front three of Thomas Muller, Timo Werner and Marco Reus. Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler were pretty disappointing against Mexico, and it will be no surprise if both of them are axed from the starting XI. Muller was isolated on the right flank, so he should come centrally against Sweden and play alongside Timo Werner, while Marco Reus slots in just behind them. Muller and Reus can keep interchanging their positions in this formation.

Michael Philander

"GomezReus – Ozil – MullerRudy – KroosHector – Hummels – Boateng – KimmichNeuer"

After Sunday’s slump against Mexico, Joachim Low will need changes to galvanize success in his unit. There were many things that went wrong for Germany in their match against Mexico. Mexico used their ability to absorb pressure then counter to their fullest potential. Germany’s defense was left completely exposed by the counter-attacks, often with just Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng left to save the team. These counters could’ve been stopped early had Sami Khedira been more robust in midfield.

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Khedira was atrocious overall, often allowing Toni Kroos to be doubled in midfield. To prevent this, I would introduce a more defensive-minded midfielder in Sebastian Rudy as a replacement to Khedira. Khedira, now entering the twilight of his career, looks as though he lacks the motivation he once had. Rudy, on the other hand, would be playing to make a name for himself on the biggest of stages.

Another major flaw for Germany was their toothlessness in the box. I would replace Timo Werner with Mario Gomez to provide an aerial presence. When analyzing the match, it’s easy to see that there were a large number of crosses played into the box but no player to win the aerial duels.

I would also bring Marco Reus into the starting lineup. While Julian Draxler is a good player, I do not believe he creates the fear or offers the talismanic threats that Marco Reus does. Reus could cause defensive problems with his wing play by stretching defenses, which was lacking in the match against Mexico. This would also free up Thomas Muller to poach more in the box. Hector should be able to return to the starting XI.

Guillermo Kurten

"GomezReus – Ozil – MullerKroos – GoretzkaHector – Hummels – Boateng – KimmichNeuer"

There should be no personnel changes in defense. Joshua Kimmich should start at right-back, for obvious reasons. There is no better option for Germany in that position since the retirement of Philipp Lahm, and Kimmich can give the width. The only change here is for Kimmich to up his defensive game.

The center-back pairing, also without a doubt, should be Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. The two big Bayern Munich defenders are the best options in these crucial roles, with Niklas Sule being an able back-up if needed. However, these two will need to up their composure to avoid getting exposed early out of possession. Jonas Hector, back from illness, will return to left-back.

At right and left midfield, Thomas Muller and Marco Reus should start respectively. Thomas Muller won’t be playing like a conventional winger, but his Raumdeuter skills will actually need to be present to make up for this. Marco Reus can provide an injection of pace on the left wing.

In attacking center-midfield will be Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. The playmaker has the quality to string together lethal passes in the attacking third. The issue lies in his work rate, which needs amplification. Lying just a bit deeper in the traditional center-midfield role is Toni Kroos. He will ideally set a positive tempo for Germany’s play.

Next to him, in a box-to-box role, should be Leon Goretzka, with an emphasis on ball-winning and tracking back. He should be the one filling in defensively for Kimmich or Hector while they are bombing forward. Rounding up the line-up should be Mario Gomez for experience. If Germany insist on crosses, Gomez is a better target for those crucial headers than Timo Werner.

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There you have it, our picks for Germany’s lineup against Sweden. What do you think? Who — if anyone — should Joachim Low drop for the next game?