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World Cup last sixteen

Schweinsteiger to start against Algeria?

Mario Götze could return to the starting line-up in place of the injured Lukas Podolski, although Miroslav Klose may well begin as an orthodox centre-forward, but an even bigger question in the build-up to Germany’s meeting with Algeria in the World Cup Round of 16 on Monday evening concerns the midfield area: will Bastian Schweinsteiger retain his place, or might Sami Khedira return? “It’ll be a gut decision,” coach Joachim Löw announced.

“Both have fought their way back from injury, both are vital members of the team, both are very important to me,” continued Löw. Schweinsteiger and Khedira filled dual holding roles at the last World Cup, but the current German tactics require only one player in the position.

Khedira played the group stage fixtures against Portugal and Ghana, but Schweinsteiger started the narrow victory over USA. “Bastian played very well. We’ll have to see what we do in the next match,” Löw said, although he reported the rest had done Khedira “a lot of good”.

Neuer: We need to be ruthless

Regardless of the line-up, the three-time world champions are confident. “Our shape is good and we dominate matches. We’re very composed on the ball,” commented Toni Kroos, a fixture in the German midfield alongside Philipp Lahm. “If we keep the pace high, we can expose their defensive weaknesses,” opined Manuel Neuer, “if we recover possession quickly, we can strike ruthlessly.”

The Germany squad travelled on Saturday evening to the cooler climes of Porto Alegre, where they are hoping for a first-ever victory over Algeria. The north Africans are the only nation the Germans have played more than once and never beaten – they lost both meetings to date in 1964 and 1982. “Focus and positive tension are the key factors,” declared Löw, “every lapse in concentration will be punished.”