Germany vow to bounce back against Sweden having endured torrid time since shock defeat by Mexico

Germany vow to bounce back against Sweden having endured torrid time since shock defeat by Mexico

World Cup fever has taken a twist in Group F where the Swedes are on the run from a sick bug and are fighting to shake off the curse of the champions amid a fierce storm of criticism.

Joachim Low called for ‘power and determination‘ from the World Cup holders on Friday night, after a torrid six days since they were stunned by in Moscow.

‘The start of the week wasn‘t easy,‘ said Germany boss Low.

‘It hurt, that goes without saying. The mistakes — and there were quite a few — have been analysed and I can feel there is a positive tension.

‘We are all subject to criticism but my deep trust in players who have been playing well for three or four years will not be shaken by a single match. We should not be doubting our talent. We must deliver and if we do win we are right back in the race.‘

If it seems like an over-reaction from the four-time champions, then put the Mexico defeat into historical context. It is 36 years since the Germans lost their opening fixture of a World Cup and even then, as West Germany, they still reached the final.

The last time they fell at the first hurdle was 1938, Hitler was in power and the 16-nation World Cup was a simple knockout format. Germany lost in the first round to Switzerland, in a replay.

So one defeat sparked an extreme reaction because it leaves no margin for error.

Three of the last four champions have failed to make it out of the group stage as they tried to defend the trophy.

Lose to the Swedes and it will be four out of five.

‘Not many teams have defended the title,‘ said Low. ‘Clearly it‘s not easy.‘

But, more than the result, it was the chaotic performance of his team and their vulnerability to pace on the break which was so far removed from the norm of this gifted generation.

Former international Mario Basler‘s attack on Mesut Ozil — comparing his body language to that of a ‘dead frog‘ — certainly grabbed the attention.

A more considered critique by Lothar Matthaus reached the same conclusion, that Ozil was fortunate to stay in the team.

Low‘s preparation was questioned, as was his decision to leave out Marco Reus, and theories emerged of how he had told the popular forward he wanted to keep him fresh for more important games. Others rounded on team manager Oliver Bierhoff for selecting the wrong team base.

Germany certainly wasted no time moving south on Tuesday to spend four nights in the Black Sea resort of Sochi where they were based for last year‘s Confederations Cup.

Whatever the reasons for the mess against Mexico, everyone agrees it cannot be repeated. Players gathered for a frank exchange of views and the big guns have been rolled out to make positive noises and promises.

‘We took things a bit too lightly after the warm-up games,‘ said Thomas Muller. ‘We have to put it right, and go back to walking the extra mile.‘

Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez all echoed the same sentiment with such defiance that it added to the feeling that something was not quite right.

‘It feels like a crisis because it is a crisis,‘ said presenter Jochen Stutzky of television channel Sport 1.

‘Before this tournament we didn‘t play well, but the coaches and players told us not to worry because it will be alright when we get there. ‘And then it wasn‘t. Maybe they didn‘t expect this situation. But the team will respond and I absolutely expect us to go through, 100 per cent.‘

Low plans to make changes against Sweden, yielding to the clamour to recall Reus, although Ozil is expected to retain his place. Hummels is set to miss out with a neck problem.

The Swedes may not possess the counter-attacking speed of Mexico but they are in the business of upsets, having knocked Holland and Italy out during qualification.

Three players who reported sick have been quarantined and did not travel to Sochi. Only one of the trio, Pontus Jansson of Leeds, started the last game against South Korea and might still join the squad if he feels better before Saturday night‘s game, according to boss Janne Andersson.