Germany vs. Sweden, Lewy vs. James
As they look to defend their World Cup title, Germany have been handed an interesting but doable group. Led by Bayern captain Manuel Neuer, and including Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller & Co., Germany have been placed into Group F alongside Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. That was the result of the World Cup draw held at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, where Miroslav Klose brought the trophy out on stage.
Other FCB players can also look forward to interesting group games. France (Group C), who are likely to have Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso in their squad in the summer, will face Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Robert Lewandowski will make his bow at the tournament with Poland and will come up against teammate and Colombia captain James Rodriguez. Group H also contains Senegal and Japan.
Spain have been placed in Group B alongside European champions Portugal, as well as Morocco and Iran. As well as regular Thiago, Javi Martinez and Juan Bernat are also hopeful of featuring in Russia. Renato Sanches, who is currently on loan at Swansea City, could also be included for Portugal. Record winners Brazil, for whom Rafinha is a hopeful come the summer, are in Group B alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
The opening game of the tournament will feature hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on 14 June at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The final will also be held there on 15 July.
Reaction to the draw
Manuel Neuer (Germany captain): “We’ve been drawn against some teams we know. I always prefer to play teams where we know what’s coming. They’re all opponents we have to take seriously, but it still has to remain our aim to progress from the group in first place. Mexico generally play aggressive football. We can set up well against Sweden, but they qualified at the expense of Italy so we definitely won’t be taking them lightly. South Korea are known for their impressive play. It’s an interesting group with three opponents from three different continents.”
Thomas Müller (Germany): “It’s an interesting group. We’ve got something from all corners of the world, which is what a World Cup is about. All three teams are different, so it’s a bit of everything for us. We have to approach every game differently. We’ve already experienced Mexico from the Confederations Cup, but a World Cup is different. In that sense, the group will either be tough or easy depending on how we play.”
Jerome Boateng (Germany): “Our group is really interesting because we’re up against teams from different continents in Mexico and South Korea. It won’t be easy because we’re the favourites in this group.”
Robert Lewandowski (Poland): “It’s not an easy group so we’re not the favourites. It’s nice that we’ve got interesting opponents from other continents. I’m really looking forward to the game against Colombia and my teammate James.”
James Rodriguez (Colombia captain): “Our aim is to quality for the knock-out stage. It’s a tough group, really complicated, but we want to make our country dream. We all want to progress and hopefully play three good games.”
Kingsley Coman (France): “France’s group is okay. We can beat all of them, but our aim is simply to qualify from the group.”
Corentin Tolisso (France): “It’s a tough group with strong opponents. We have a big effort ahead of us to reach the last 16.”