As good as friendlies get: Spain and Brazil

As we look towards the upcoming World Cup finals in Russia, it is time to kick off the gradual buildup with not one but two prestige fixtures. Germany’s opponents are as best as they can get in a friendly fixture, their two previous opponents in World Cup semi-finals. First up for the Mannschaft are 2010 semi-final opponents and eventual winners Spain in Düsseldorf, followed a match-up in Berlin against the team they beat 7-1 on their home turf in 2014, Brazil.

Both opponents, along with Germany, are among the favourites to lift the trophy in Moscow this summer. Germany are currently top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, with Brazil in second and Spain not far behind in joint sixth with Poland.

Previous meetings

Every German football fan will remember that historic evening in Belo Horizonte, arguably the Mannschaft greatest ever match on the international stage. Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw will be looking to extend his 100% record against the Seleção. In August 2011, Löw’s young team engineered a thrilling 3-2 win in Stuttgart.

While recent recents have been good, the same cannot be said of Germany’s overall record against the five-time World Champions. In the 22 matches played between the two countries, Germany have registered just five victories to Brazil’s twelve, with five draws.

To find Germany’s last defeat against Brazil however, one needs to go back to the 2005 Confederations Cup semi-final in Nürnberg, where the team then coached by Jürgen Klinsmann fell by the odd goal in five.

Germany hold the historic edge over European rivals Spain, with nine wins, six draws and seven defeats. However, the gap between the countries was a whole lot wider until the late 2000s. While the Mannschaft were vying with the Netherlands, France and Italy for the title of leading European footballing power during the 1970s and 1980s, Spanish football was in the doldrums.

Having won the European Championship in 1964, La Furia Roja had to wait until 2008 to collect their next international trophy. Those 44 years of hurt would end in Vienna, in final of the Euros. Their opponent? Jogi Löw’s Germany.

A repeat result in the World Cup semi-final in South Africa two years later cemented Spain’s position as Europe’s number one team, as they went on to match Germany’s achievement of holding both the World and European crown. At Euro 2012, they made it an unprecedented three international titles on the bounce, while also levelling Germany’s record of three European titles.

Things could not last forever. In 2014 the reigning World Champions were dumped out of the tournament in the first phase, while Germany went on to lift the golden trophy in Rio. Later in the year, the Mannschaft ended a run of three straight defeats against the Iberians with a 1-0 friendly win in a wet and windy Vigo.

The squad

The last international squad was selected back in November 2017 for the friendly double header against England and France, but personnel changes are surprisingly few. 1. FC Köln left-back Jonas Hector is a welcome return to the fold after a long spell out through injury, while Schalke 04 playmaker and Confederations Cup hero Leon Goretzka also returns.

Of those who were in the last squad, RB Leipzig fullback Marcel Halstenberg is out for the remainder of the season with a knee ligament injury, while Ajax’s Amin Younes has undergone a torrid season that has seen injury, a drop in form on the pitch, and problems off it. While the unfortunate Halstenberg will now have to look towards Euro 2020, the jury is still out as to whether Younes will be in the mix when the final squad is put together.

There had been plenty of media chit-chat about Borussia Dortmund duo Götze and Marco Reus making the squad, but the coach has decided to play the waiting game. Götze’s star has dimmed somewhat after a bright start to the season, and only time will tell if he is going to be part of the World Cup setup. Reus, back in action after another long spell out with injury, is slowly getting back to his best. But given his litany of injury problems, it looks like Löw has made the wise decision to extend the talented but fragile winger’s international rest until at least the next round of warm-up matches.

Goalkeepers:

Bernd Leno (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 6/0)
Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, 18/0)
Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain, 2/0)

Defence:

Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 68/1)
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 17/0)
Jonas Hector (1. FC Köln , 35/3)
Mats Hummels (FC Bayern München, 62/5)
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München, 25/3)
Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha BSC, 5/0)
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea FC, 22/1)
Niklas Süle (FC Bayern München, 8/0)

Midfield/Forwards:

Julian Brandt (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 13/1)
Emre Can (Liverpool FC, 20/1)
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain, 40/6)
Mario Gómez (VfB Stuttgart, 71/31)
Leon Goretzka (FC Schalke 04, 12/6)
İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City, 22/4)
Sami Khedira (Juventus Turin, 72/7)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF, 80/12)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 89/37)
Mesut Özil (Arsenal FC, 88/22)
Sebastian Rudy (FC Bayern München, 24/1)
Leroy Sané (Manchester City, 9/0)
Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 10/4)
Sandro Wagner (FC Bayern München, 7/5)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, 10/7)

As good as friendlies get: Spain and Brazil
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