Reigning world champions Germany will begin the defence of their 2014 crown against Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The two sides will face off in what will be the opening game of Group F as ‘Die Mannschaft’ look to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil achieved back to back titles in 1962.
Joachim Low’s side, who qualified convincingly for their 17th consecutive tournament, have been handed a generous draw alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
Mexico qualified for this year’s World Cup top of the fifth round of CONCACAF qualification with just one defeat in 10 games, complete with an impressive unbeaten home record. Despite this, they haven’t advanced past the round of 16 since they were hosts in 1986, although they ran Netherlands very close four years ago.
Be sure to expect a game that is far from straight forward.
Unsurprisingly Germany have been in scintillating form, winning all their qualifying games and only conceding four goals in the process.
They notched a combined 15 goals past San Marino in their two clashes, also putting nine past both Azerbaijan and Norway. Form like this is one of the main reasons that the Germans are considered one of the tournament favourites once more.
Mexico have played eight games since qualifying, including five games against potential opposition in Russia.
They secured wins against the likes of Poland and Iceland, a closely contested draw against Belgium and defeats against Croatia and Denmark. Nevertheless, those defeats will be learning curve for ‘El Tri’ and they will not lie down for the reigning champions.
Joachim Low will take charge of ‘Die Mannschaft’ for the third time in a World Cup, coming into the tournament with a winner’s medal having previously been around his neck.
Having finished third prior to his 2014 triumph, it’s fair to say that his record in the World Cup has been nothing short of impeccable.
After three long spells at SC Freiburg as a player, he has been the mastermind in Germany’s recent success. There’s no denying that he’s been one of the great German managers of all time, and he will no doubt want to repeat the glory of Brazil.
Juan Carlos Osorio will be taking ‘El Tri’ into battle for the first time at a World Cup, and he could not face a more challenging test first up.
Since taking over the national team in 2015, his side went on a 22-game unbeaten run before losing 7-0 in the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario against Chile. His side would then go on to finish fourth in the Confederations Cup last year, which indicates that his side aren’t travelling to Russia just to make up the numbers.
Germany are expected to be organised and very well structured, just as they have been over the years.
Lots of tough decisions have had to be made by Low but if there’s one thing at ‘Die Mannschaft’ disposal, it's strength in depth throughout their 23-man squad.
Despite dropping Manchester City’s Leroy Sane in favour of Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, Germany will almost have a full-strength side to choose from with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil returning to training after picking up a knock in recent weeks.
Timo Werner has impressed throughout qualification and during the warm up to the World Cup, scoring a brace against Norway and getting on the score sheet in their last game when they took on Saudi Arabia.
Mexico have been undergoing a three year rebuilding project since Osorio took charge. With the exceptions of mainstays Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela, El Tri have experimented with a variety of players during qualifying and their friendlies.
Osorio will be expect his side to be disciplined, as well as using blistering pace to get at the German defence on the counter.
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Goretzka; Muller; Draxler; Werner
Mexico: (4-1-4-1): Ochoa; Salcedo, Layun, Moreno, Araujo; Reyes; Herrera, Guardado, Lozano; Vela; Hernandez
This game could very well turn out to be attack vs defence, with the Germans enjoying the majority of possession.
Mexico will be relying on strength and discipline to get themselves a result at the Luzhniki Stadium, desperately trying not to make any mistakes. Both teams will be eager to secure a positive result first up, but it should turn out to be a comfortable afternoon for Joachim Low's men.
Prediction: Germany 3-1 Mexico