The second semi-final between the world champions Germany and the volatile Mexicans promises to be a mouth-watering clash
Smooth entry into the semis
Coming into the tournament fielding virtually none of their stalwart stars of the 2010-2016 period, Germany has probably exceeded all expectations. Many pondered if they would even get through the group stages but comfortable wins over Australia and Cameroon ensured their progress. Players like Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Kerem Demirbay are now right in World Cup selection frame.
Mexico, on the other hand have been exactly as you would expect: diligent enough to overcome the hurdle (Russia) and the banana skin (New Zealand), whilst showing great fighting spirit to snatch a late point in their opening game against Portugal.
It will be seriously interesting to see how these giants fare up on the big day.
Key players to watch out for on the penultimate game
Carlos Vela, the Real Sociedad striker has been doing the national duty since the last decade, he has been tremendous with the ball at the helm, he has an amazing telepathy with his fellow team mates but Jonas Hector is the man from Germany who can stop this steam roller to trounce them. His impeccable footwork and agility would be tested when he is up to Mexican maverick. Two other players who cannot be missed are Germany’s Julian Draxler and Mexico’s Chicharito, who have been there for the considerable time and have done well with their clubs and also when they don the national colours. Where on one side people keep asking whether Chicharito has still left in him but the bigger question is, when did he lose it. As far Draxler is concerned, being made the skipper proves that he projected as the future leader for the Germans for the years to come.
Team with X-factor will prevail
Joachim Leow will have to make a difficult choice for his right back. Will it be Stindl or Werner, both of them have been at the top of their game in this tournament but the final nod will be given to the player who have the big game temperament. A tough choice to make but we all know what Leow is capable of.
Mexico has their own set of headaches, left-winger Andrés Guardado’s two yellow cards rules him out of this game, stripping the starting side of 135 caps of experience. Does that mean another of Mexico’s ex-wonder kid’s, Giovani Dos Santos, gets to start? He’s found his niche with the LA Galaxy and would dearly love to take on the world’s best right from the start. Another who grows an extra leg for the national team, perhaps he’ll get his chance in what would be his 99th cap. But the attacking-minded Marco Fabián (Eintracht Frankfurt) or ever-reliable Javier Aquino (UANL) are probably slightly better suited to wide play.
Mexico the team who has tasted success at Confederations Cup
Mexico are the only team in the tournament who have won the Confederations Cup before – when they hosted the event in 1999 and beat Brazil 4-3 in the final – and their squad has a considerable amount of international experience to repeat the feat, though they have hurdles enroute to the trophy like the Germans and the one who they will face in the finals and in most probability Portugal. But who on this earth can rule out the Germans, many did before the tournament, now they had to eat their humble pie. The young team led by the 23 year old Draxler is looking into good shape and has surprised many as most ruled them out as they fielded an inexperienced side resting most of the big guns from the winning WC side of 2014.
Battle of the Unbeatens
The second semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 sees reigning world champions Germany take on CONCACAF kings Mexico. Both sides are unbeaten in the competition, having scored two wins and a draw each in their three group matches.
Mexico and Germany both picked up seven points in the group phase
This is their second Tournament of Champions meeting
A place in Sunday’s final in St Petersburg is at stake
This day, that year
1: Germany and Mexico have faced off once before at the FIFA Confederations Cup, in 2005, the year before the Germans hosted the FIFA World Cup. With current boss Low looking from the dugout as an assistant coach, a Germany side featuring Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger won 4-3 after extra time in the match for third place. Curiously, that game took place 12 years ago to the day, on 29 June.
Kings of Comebacks
2: The Mexicans have been the kings of the comeback at Russia 2017, having come from behind in all three of their group matches, eventually beating New Zealand and Russia by 2-1 scorelines and drawing 2-2 with Portugal, a game in which they equalised not once but twice.
Germany are on a 13-match unbeaten run, one that comprises ten wins and three draws. Their last defeat came in the middle of last year, when they lost 2-0 to France in the semi-finals at UEFA EURO 2016.
Top Players to watch out for between Mexico vs Germany
Guillermo Ochoa is a player who needs little introduction. The watching world saw, live and direct, his magnificent save from a Neymar header during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil - one that drew immediate comparisons with that of Gordon Banks against Pele 34 years previously.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, the biggest star in the Mexican soccer. He also become the first Mexican player to join the club in July 2010. Hernandez also scored goal in the 2-2 opening draw against Portugal in FIFA Confederations Cup 2017. He has been typically described as a "goal-poacher", due to a number of his goals being scored from close-range. He came into the limelight after joining European giants, gained a lot of experience by playing in sides likes Real Madrid and Bayern Leverkusen
Julian Draxler is 23 but has already been through more than most players go through in an entire career. At 19, he was making his debut for Germany. At 20, he became the youngest player to reach 100 German league appearances. At 21, he engineered a move away from Schalke, the club he had joined at 8 years of age, and was sold to Wolfsburg. At 22, he was being booed by his own supporters after, again, looking to move on to a bigger, wealthier club. He got his wish this past January at the age of 23, transferring to Paris Saint-Germain.
Shkodran Mustafi is a tall and sturdy central midfielder with a no nonsense approach towards the game. He means business when he takes the pitch. He has been a mainstay of the arsenal defense in the recently concluded season. His mettle would be tested when he plays against his team mate when Germany takes on Chile in the group stage. This 25 year old is touted to be there in the defensive line for a long period of time for the Germans.
Emre Can, Liverpool midfielder, who helped Germany navigate the group stage with relative ease is all set for face fiery Mexican side. Emre Can joined the Meseyside from German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 and has apparently racked-up 129 starts for the club
FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, Semi-Finals, Mexico vs Germany, Thursday, 29th June 2017, Live and Exclusive on Sony SIX and TEN 2 at 11:30 P.M. IST