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Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

Defensive flaws could cost Germany a place in the final

Mexico can take advantage

Mexico's record goalscorer Javier Hernandez
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Confederations Cup semi-final
ITV, 7pm Thursday 

Germany are through to the European Under 21 Championship final but their senior side may fall at the Confederations Cup semi-final stage when facing Mexico in Sochi.

Mexico narrowly missed out on winning Group A but have done all that can be asked of them - drawing 2-2 with well-fancied Portugal and beating New Zealand 2-1 and Russia 2-1.

They showed plenty of character when coming from behind in each of their victories but it is important they make a better start against the Germans, who are excellent at controlling the tempo of a game when in a winning position.

Germany also took seven points in the group stage but their performances have been mixed.

They opened up with a 3-2 victory over Australia, were more disciplined in a 1-1 draw with Chile and rounded things off with a 3-1 success over Cameroon.

The lack of a clean sheet should be a concern for Joachim Low, who has been struggling to find the right balance in defence.

With Manuel Neuer given the summer off, two goalkeepers - Bernd Leno and Marc Andre ter Stegen - were used in the group stage.

And Low faces a tricky decision after ter Stegen blundered for Cameroon's goal on Sunday - allowing Vincent Aboubakar's header to slip through his hands.

The back three has been changed for every match with five players - Joshua Kimmich, Shkodran Mustafi, Antonio Rudiger, Matthias Ginter and Niklas Sule playing in the central positions.

And while the experimentation may serve Germany well in the future it doesn't seem to be helping them with their Confederations Cup challenge.

They have papered over the cracks by showing a lot of quality in attack.

Forwards Lars Stindl and Timo Werner arrived at the tournament as novices at international level but have grabbed two goals each and are growing in confidence.

Julian Draxler - the most experienced player in the group - has looked assured in an attacking midfield position and has been ably assisted by Schalke's Leon Goretzka, who has enhanced his reputation.

However, both of Germany's wins came against sides they were expected to beat.

In the 1-1 draw against Chile, they were more cautious but were still undone at the back by a slick move for Alexis Sanchez's early goal.

Mexico lack the individual quality of the Chileans but operate well as a team and have natural goalscorer Javier Hernandez leading the line.

They did well in the group stage despite falling behind in all three games and it would be interesting to see how they go if they hit the front.

There is a resilience about the Mexican team - they haven't lost a competitive match since June 2016 - and they look value to qualify at the expense of a talented but defensively-flawed Germany.

Mexico to qualify
1pt 13-8 Paddy Power

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Team news
No fresh injuries are reported but Joachim Low has a decision to make over the centre-forward position with Lars Stindl and Timo Werner on two goals each for the competition.

Andres Guardado serves a one-match ban after picking up two yellow cards in the group stage. Javier Hernandez (muscle fatigue) is expected to play despite missing training on Monday. Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes are injury doubts and Carlos Salcido (shoulder) is out of the competition.

Key stat
Mexico are unbeaten in their last 11 competitive games.

The lack of a clean sheet should be a concern for Joachim Low, who has been struggling to find the right balance in defence
E.W. Terms
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