Troubled Germany look to make statement against Mexico

Moscow: Germany must shrug off a rocky World Cup build-up as they begin the defence of their title on Sunday against a vastly experienced Mexico side jolted by their own pre-tournament scandal.
While Manuel Neuer finally won his lengthy fitness battle after more than eight months out, Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan were jeered by Germany fans in recent friendlies after posing for a photograph alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said what is discussed on talk shows should not concern the players, adding: “We are here to play football.”
The form of Joachim Loew’s side is another concern though, an unconvincing win over a Saudi Arabia outfit thrashed 5-0 in the World Cup opener represents Germany’s lone victory since romping through qualifying with maximum points.
“We need the greed, the fire — it’s part of what makes things go off with a bang sometimes in training and on the playing pitch. We will have to fight for every inch,” said defender Jerome Boateng.
“I think we’re known as a team that starts well,” he added, saying he feels “better from day to day” after returning from a groin injury.
Germany defeated Mexico 4-1 on the way to lifting last year’s Confederations Cup trophy but Kroos believes that result is of little significance now.
“We shouldn’t underestimate them, even if it was a clear win at the Confederations Cup last year. We’re taking this very, very seriously and, once more for emphasis, because it’s our first game at the World Cup.
— AFP