World champions Germany
will pit an inexperienced lineup
against Australia in their
Confederations Cup opener
today with striker Timo
Werner anticipating a robust
challenge from the Socceroos.
With an average age of
just 24 years, four months,
and a combined total of 179
international appearances,
Germany have the most
youthful squad of the eight
Confed Cup teams.
Only three of the squad –
Arsenal’s 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 de Janeiro 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.
On the back of his
breakthrough season with RB
Leipzig, striker Timo Werner,
21, 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.
“Now comes an unpleasant
game in which the Australians
will try, with their physiques
and toughness, to take us on.
“But we have a duty to win
the three points. We need to
get a quick goal and then exert
some dominance.”
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 champions have
made no secret of the fact
their goal is not to win the
Confederations Cup, but to
blood their 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 St-
Germain star has the most
experience and is expected
to lead by example in the
attacking midfield role.
World-class goalkeeper
Neuer is recovering from
foot surgery, so Bayer
Leverkusen’s shot-stopper
Bernd Leno is tasked with
keeping Australia’s attack at
bay.
Australia have held their
heads high against Germany
in their last two meetings in
friendlies.
The Socceroos shocked the
below-strength Germans 2-1
in Moenchengladbach in 2011.
Then two years ago, the
2015 Asian Cup champions
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 hammering by
Brazil.
Despite last Tuesday’s 4-0
drubbing by the Selecao
in Melbourne, head coach
Ange Postecoglou says the
goal remains to bring the
Confederations Cup home.
Winger Robbie Kruse has
overcome a knee knock
suffered in the Brazil defeat
and could face the Germans.
After the opening game in
Sochi, Cameroon and Chile
then await Australia and
Germany in Group B, with
the top two sides progressing
to the semifinals.
Die Mannschaft will wear
black-arm bands in Sochi to
pay their respects to former
German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl, who died on Friday.

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