GERMANY v MEXICO
Live on BBC One. Sunday, June 17. Kick-off 4pm
GERMANY'S shock omission of Leroy Sane from their final squad showed the strength in depth Joachim Low has at his disposal for the defence of their world title.
The Man City winger was left at home, with Leverkusen's Julian Brandt getting the nod instead, and the Germans' ruthless efficiency should see them ease through from Group F.
Don't be fooled by some iffy friendly results in recent weeks from Die Mannschaft – Low has never failed to lead the Germans to at least the semi-finals of every major tournament in his 12 years in charge and they'll be eyeing a winning start to set them towards another glory run.
Germany qualified for the Russia showpiece with a perfect 10 wins from 10 and all bar one of them went over 2.5 goals. They are spoiled for choice middle to front with quality performers including Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil all vying for places while Timo Werner is poised to lead the line.
Bayern Munich schemer Muller, who'll be deployed just behind Werner, was his country's joint top scorer in qualifying in five goals and is worth taking to get his side off the mark in Russia.
Germany's largely second-string side thumped Mexico 4-1 in the semi-finals of last summer's Confederations Cup, a competition where Juan Carlos Osorio's side gave a good account of themselves.
Osorio has pledged to stick with an attacking gameplan and his Mexico team should be one of the more entertaining to watch in a group stage likely to feature plenty of stodge.
Winger Hirving Lozano is their key man fresh from a brilliant first season in Europe with PSV Eindhoven while up top West Ham poacher Javier Hernandez has plenty of top-level experience.
But the Mexicans' chances of pulling off an early ambush here are slim and Germany can lay down a marker as they begin the quest for back-to-back World Cup crowns.
- Germany win and over 2.5 goals (13-10, Boylesports)
- Muller (9-2, bet365)
- Germany 3, Mexico 1 (13-1, Bet Stars)