Sports

Youthful Germany expects tough start at Confed Cup

Fedor Smolov scores Russia’s second goal against New Zealand during the opening match of the Confederations Cup in St Petersburg on Saturday. The host won the Group A tie 2-0. — Reuters

Fedor Smolov scores Russia’s second goal against New Zealand during the opening match of the Confederations Cup in St Petersburg on Saturday. The host won the Group A tie 2-0. — Reuters

WORLD champion Germany will pit an inexperienced line-up against Australia in its Confederations Cup opener today with striker Timo Werner anticipating a robust challenge from the Socceroos.

With an average age of just 24 years, 4 months, and a combined total of 179 international appearances, Germany has the most youthful squad of the eight Confed Cup teams.

Only three of the squad — Shkodran Mustafi, Matthias Ginter and Julian Draxler — lifted the World Cup in Brazil three years ago, but none of the trio played in the Rio final.

With the likes of Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng all left at home, Joshua Kimmich is the only Bayern Munich star in the Germany squad.

After his breakthrough season with RB Leipzig, Werner expects a fiery start in Sochi for the untested, green Germans.

“We don’t all know how fit we are after a long and hard season,” admitted Werner, 21.

“Now comes an unpleasant game in which the Australians will try, with their physiques and toughness, to take us on.”

A year out from the World Cup in Russia, there has never been a better time for the Socceroos to poach a first win over Germany at a major competition at the fourth attempt.

The world champion has made no secret of the fact its goal is not to win the Confederations Cup, but to blood its next generation of stars.

“The first priority is to develop the team, the second to win here,” said team manager Oliver Bierhoff bluntly.

With the likes of key midfielders Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos rested, the pressure falls on 23-year-old captain Draxler. With 30 caps, the Paris Saint-Germain star has the most experience and is expected to lead by example in the attacking midfield role.

Australia has held its heads high against Germany in their last two friendlies. The Socceroos shocked the below-strength Germans 2-1 in Moenchengladbach in 2011. Then two years ago, the 2015 Asian Cup champion drew 2-2 against Germany in Kaiserslautern.

However, the Socceroos have arrived in Russia on the back of a narrow World Cup qualifying win over Saudi Arabia and a 4-0 hammering by Brazil.

Portugal was taking on Mexico and Cameroon was playing Chile yesterday.

More StoriesLatest Sports News

Everton fires Koeman with team in EPL drop zone

4 HOURS AGO

Captain Zheng cites Guangzhou unity for triumph

4 HOURS AGO

Klopp’s Liverpool draws flak

4 HOURS AGO