Oh, what a mess. Germany came into the World Cup with so much hope, but that loss to Japan has turned everything sour. Now the team needs a win versus Spain to keep qualification hopes alive, but given what we’ve seen lately, it feels like a long shot.
Hansi Flick still has a solid squad at his disposal, especially a contingent of excellent Bayern Munich talent. If he can get his tactics and selection right, there’s no reason why the Germans can’t manage a win. However, with all the issues (already discussed, check out the pod below) seen in the Japan game, there will need to be a ton of changes to make a difference on Sunday.
The big news is that Leroy Sane is back in training and might be able to play. Will he play? Who knows. Hansi Flick says they’ll decide after the final training session whether he’ll be fit to play. This might concern some fans, but a World Cup game against Spain is the exact kind of situation where someone like Leroy Sane might be risked even if he’s not 100% fit.
As far as other injuries go, we’ve had no new reports of any setbacks in the German ranks, so the coach more or less has his full squad ready to play.
So what kind of lineup can we expect from the Germans versus Spain? Honestly, it’s hard to say. Flick was mostly quiet on what changes he’d make from the Japan game, and with Sane’s status in doubt, it’s practically impossible to get an accurate picture of the starting XI.
So how about we go with the lineup we want to see instead? That would mean putting a true #9 in Niclas Fullkug at the top, flanked by the likes of Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry (or Sane, if he is fit). Thomas Muller can start behind the striker in his preferred position, where he will be critical to attacking spaces left by Sergio Busquets in defense (which is how Bayern often beat Barcelona).
Midfield-wise, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are the obvious choices. Gundogan wasn’t bad against Japan, but a tested pairing would be the way to go against Spain’s choice of Gavi and Pedri. At the very least, you won’t see Kimmich at right-back — Flick confirmed fan sentiments that it wouldn’t really help.
The defense is ... not great. Antonio Rudiger is the only one who seems to have his head screwed on straight. Niklas Sule can stay on the lineup if he wants. He wasn’t great versus Japan but he could be better. Nico Schlotterbeck needs to stay as far away from the starting XI as possible — start Matthias Ginter instead if you have to. And finally, maybe David Raum could be replaced by Christian Gunter at left-back. Finally, Manuel Neuer, as usual, will play at goalkeeper.
Here’s what the XI could look like:
As for how Germany might play, check out our Weekend Warm-up Podcast for the lowdown:
As always, we appreciate all the support!
Leroy Sane completed the final training session with the team, so he should be an option for the game. He still has a strapped-up knee so it remains to be seen whether he can start.
Leroy Sané completed the full training session today, but with a strapped right knee. A decision on whether he can feature against Spain tomorrow will be made shortly before the game [@kerry_hau, @felixfischifish] pic.twitter.com/DoZXqWYdbm— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 26, 2022
Bild gives us potential lineups for the game: