Who? Germany - Sweden
Where? Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
When? June 23, 20:00 (CET local time)
Germany is facing a new unusual situation, losing in the group stage. Since 1990, Germany lost only once in the group stage out of 21 games. Now, after they dropped three points, the world champions need to be focused in order to get back to the race for the knockout stage.
Once upon a time, Germany and Sweden met three times in the World Cup, and in two out of these three matches, Germany won. The Germans hold a long streak of undefeated games against Sweden. They won their last 11 games, as the last Swedish win was in 1978. The last official match that Germany has lost to Sweden was in the 1958 World Cup.
If there is something that makes the German journey in Russia more complicated, it is the recent political controversy of Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündoğan. The two German players met a month ago with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and caused a lot of criticism among former players and the fans. Before the match against Mexico, while the German lineup was announced in the stadium, the fans shouted and booed in the moment that Özil's name was heard.
After France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014, Germany doesn't want to be part of the recent tradition of World Champions with early eliminations. For Löw and his players, nothing but winning against Sweden is acceptable.
After the match against South Korea, Sweden believe that they have what it needs in order to qualify for the next stage. In their last three World Cup appearance they didn't fail to qualify through the group stage, and they wouldn't like to break this streak.
Sweden now will have to face few more records in their path for winning vs Germany. For example, Sweden didn't win two group stage matches in one World Cup since 1958. Moreover, Sweden failed to defeat an European opponent in the World Cup since the third place match in 1994 against Bulgaria. Since this match, they drew twice against England and lost to Germany in 2006, as said before.
The last match made Andreas Granqvist the key player of the team. Even though he was the one to score against South Korea, his main role against Germany is to prevent any conceding. Granqvist enjoys now his last travel in Russia after five years of playing in Krasnodar, before he will return to play for Helsingborg.
Sweden is dreaming about an upset against Germany. If it will happen, Sweden can find themselves in the interesting situation of being one step from knockout, or maybe clinching it, depending on the other results. For Sweden, it will be an amazing achievement.