Breather for Germany ahead of World Cup

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Before Germany set off to Russia on Tuesday on the way to their World Cup base in Vatutinki, coach Jogi Löw has given his players a couple of days off to get a breather ahead of the finals. The Bayern pros have used the opportunity to spend time with their nearest and dearest. Thomas Müller and Sebastian Rudy have posted photos of days out on social media while Manuel Neuer headed to Sauerland on Saturday to watch his wife Nina in the German dressage championships in Balve. Germany play their opening game against Mexico in Moscow next Sunday (17.00 CEST).

Xabi Alonso tips former team-mate Thiago

Former Bayern pro Xabi Alonso believes his former team-mate Thiago and Spain can go all the way in Russia. "It's always easy to say but I rank Spain amongst the favourites as I don't think there's a better team at the moment," said the 36-year-old in an interview on the FIFA website. However the World Cup winner of 2010 is also impressed with his former Bayern team-mates in the Germany team. "Germany are another big favourite in my opinion. The way they play, it would be a huge surprise if they don't go through to the semi-finals -- because they're the reigning world champions and because of the young generation that's moved up," said Alonso who was on the losing side for the La Roja in the group stage against eventual winners of the 2014 World Cup.