Opinion: Germany must be wary after awkward World Cup draw | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 01.12.2017
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Opinion: Germany must be wary after awkward World Cup draw

The World Cup draw produced no obvious "group of death," but Germany certainly have it tougher than most other top seeds. No game is ever easy for the title holders, but Group F will at least keep them on their toes.

Football fans across Germany and the world will debate whether the defending champions have ended up in the proverbial World Cup group of death which seems to have to exist in every tournament.

There is definitely an argument to say Group F with Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea is the toughest group, although European champions Portugal will not be best pleased drawing Iberian rivals Spain along with Morocco and Iran.

Sweden, after their dogged elimination of Italy, were the hardest team Germany could have plucked from pot three and coach Joachim Löw (pictured above) will remember the incredible 4-4 draw in qualifying for the last World Cup when his side let a 4-0 lead slip. He will also secretly hope that rumors Zlatan Ibrahimovic will come out of international retirement for next June and July's World Cup in Russia turn out not to be true.

Mexico, for a team who have never come close to winning the trophy, have an extraordinary record in reaching the last 16 in each of the last six World Cups.

Meadows Mark Kommentarbild App

DW correspondent Mark Meadows

They may not be as strong as the recent past but 2002 semifinalists South Korea can never be dismissed and players such as former Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heung-min know German football very well.

It all points to a challenging group but as world champions, Germany should be confident of beating any team.  

"It's a very interesting group. Our aim is to lay the foundation for our title defense," Löw said.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer added: "We have to take each opponent very seriously, but our aim has to be topping the group."

Tough group breeds tough players

Having a difficult group can be a blessing in disguise. Any easy group could see Germany coast through without properly hitting top gear, meaning a fright could have been in store in the last 16.

The way the draw panned out, Löw's side will have to be right at it from the very start and will hope to build from there with a potential last-16 meeting with Switzerland looking the most likely if Germany wins their group and the in-form Swiss finish second to Brazil in Group E.

Any slipups from Brazil in the group phase could lead to an early last-16 humdinger against the Germans with memories of the 7-1 romp in the 2014 semifinals immediately coming to mind.

But Germany must put thoughts of that possibility out of their heads. They can only try to win each group game and wait to see who they get in the knockout stages.

Russland Moskau - FIFA Fußball WM-Auslosung in Russland (Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev)

Diego Maradona was among a number of former players helping with the draw

They open the defense of their title against Mexico on June 17 at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, where they hope to return for the final on July 15.

It almost wasn't Mexico. With Diego Maradona pulling the balls out of pot two, he avoided performing another "Hand of God" moment on England by putting the Three Lions in with Belgium rather than the old enemy, Germany, which had been looking increasingly possible.

In reality Germany might have been happier drawing England given they seem to have the psychological edge after victories over the English in the 1974, 1990 and 2010 editions of the tournament.

Looking ahead, if Germany win the group and England finish second in Group G and then beat the winners of Group H in the last 16, Germany against England could be a blockbuster quarterfinal.

There was the usual preamble to the draw with impressive Russian dancers filling the stage. If the host nation shows the same fleet of foot they should have a decent chance of getting out of what is a comparatively easy Group A with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay.

World Cups always benefit from a successful run from the host nation and Germany will be glad to be in the second half of the draw, initially away from the Russians should both win their group.

It is all shaping up to be a very intriguing tournament with Germany's group and passage to the final looking the most intriguing of all.

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