Germany face crunch in clash against Sweden

Germany coach Joachim Low during training. Fisht Stadium, Sochi, Russia - June 22, 2018. Reuters.

Germany could face an ignominious first-round exit from the World Cup in Russia unless they rediscover the form that propelled them to glory in Brazil in 2014 in a crunch match against Sweden on Saturday.

Joachim Loew's defending champions slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Mexico in their opening Group F match, paying the price for a calamitous first half in a performance that drew stinging criticism.

Lothar Matthaeus, the 1990 World Cup-winning captain, said he had not seen a Germany team "so weak at a big tournament for a long time" following the loss in Moscow.

The holders will likely be without defensive pillar Mats Hummels due to a neck injury, while striker Marco Reus could be handed a start after a bright 30-minute cameo off the bench against Mexico.

"Everyone is ready to fight for their lives," said forward Timo Werner, who is again set to lead the Germany attack.

With 10 World Cup goals to his name, Germany will also expect more from Thomas Mueller at his third World Cup.

"The pressure is terrifically high, but we won't win both games if we beat ourselves up internally and look for the mistakes in each other," said Mueller, with Germany set to meet South Korea in their final match.

Sweden beat the Koreans 1-0 to join Mexico at the top of the section, but a stomach bug prevented three players -- Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander and Marcus Rohden -- from initially travelling to Sochi with the rest of the squad.

Sweden are also hoping Victor Lindelof can return after sitting out the opener due to an illness of his own.

"This is really what you spend your whole career and life working towards. It is an extraordinary opportunity to be involved in a World Cup match like this," said Sweden boss Janne Andersson.

"Whether we knock out Germany is one thing, but we have a chance to qualify and that is extraordinary."

Mexico head into their showdown with South Korea after a "milestone" win over Germany, but a misstep in Rostov-on-Don would undo all that good work.

South Korea are drawing inspiration from Asian rivals Japan and Iran as they bid to avoid a premature end to their Russian adventure.

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Germany face crunch in clash against Sweden

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