Here's our preview for Wednesday's World Cup clash between Germany and Japan, including predicted lineups.
Germany last met Japan, currently ranked 26th in the World by FIFA, in a friendly in 2002, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
While Germany are coming off a 1-0 friendly win over Oman, Japan fell to a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Canada in their only World Cup warm-up match.
At a press conference ahead of the game, Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff emphasized how important it would be to get off to a winning start.
"The route of your tournament is always decisive. We have a lot of quality, and it's important to get off to a strong start. If you build up that confidence than anything is possible and you have to take it game by game," he told reporters.
Even if Germany are widely seen as favorites to win the game, Bierhoff is wary that Japan could cause problems from Hansi Flick's side.
"We will have to prepare ourselves for the uphill battle; it’s not witchcraft. The not so historically great nations usually make life especially difficult for you. You have to take the game to them and take risks. If you can't find a way to score against them, you risk being hit on the counter and going behind. We have been warned and have to start to focus – then we achieve anything," said the Germany boss.
As confirmed on Tuesday, Germany will be without Leroy Sané. Jonas Hofmann is a possible direct replacement for the Bayern winger, with Thomas Müller also in contention to start after working his way back from an injury.
Alternatively, Germany coach Hansi Flick could push Ilkay Gündogan forward to a move attacking role and let Leon Goretzka start alongside Joshua Kimmich in central midfield.
Click here to see our predicted lineups.
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