SOCHI, Russian Federation, Jun 24 – Joachim Loew can maintain his proud decade-long record of steering Germany to the semi-finals at major tournaments with a draw against Cameroon on Sunday enough to reach the last four of the Confederations Cup.
Since Loew took charge as head coach after Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup on home soil, the team has always reached the semi-finals at either European championships or World Cup finals.
The world champions take on Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium on Sunday while Chile play Australia in Moscow in the final round of Group B games.
Germany are second to Chile in the table only by a single goal with both teams on four points while Cameroon and Australia have a point each.
While Germany need a point in Sochi, Cameroon must win by two clear goals to progress.
“A draw would be enough for us to go through, but it would be good to win the group so we’d play our semi-final in Sochi,” said Loew.
“I’m planning a few changes in a position or two, some will get a break to allow fresh faces to come in.”
Germany have won two of the three previous meetings and there was a 2-2 draw when the teams last met in a pre-World Cup friendly in 2014.
A year before the World Cup, Loew took the gamble of leaving all of his World Cup-winning stars at home to blood fringe players.
The move has paid off with forward Lars Stindl scoring in both Monday’s 3-2 win over Australia and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Chile leaving him as the Confed Cup’s top-scorer.
Loew’s young side has so far been convincing in Russia.
They dominated Australia for the first hour in Sochi, then weathered a Socceroos fight back, while in Kazan against Chile they showed guts in fighting back after conceding an early goal.
Loew opted to make no changes against Chile — the first time a German coach has done that in an international since 1995 — saying he wanted his team to “tough it out”.
With first-choice shot-stopper Manuel Neuer recovering from foot surgery, Loew is expected to again rotate his goalkeeper with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp set to start.
Cameroon coach Hugo Broos fielded the same starting line-up for both their opening 2-0 defeat to Chile and Thursday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Australia.
The Belgian is expected to call up the same again against the world champions.
– Socceroos’ big test –
Australia face Chile at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium with a draw good enough for the Copa America champions while the Socceroos need a win by three clear goals to reach the last four.
It would be the biggest result in the three-year tenure of Australia’s coach Ange Postecoglou, regardless of the result.
“Our game against Chile is another massive one for us,” said Australia captain Mark Milligan.
“We will not just be hoping, we will prepare to try to win.
“Chile are a very good side, but they have weaknesses too.”
Chile’s captain, Inter Milan defender Gary Medel, is set to miss out after picking up a leg injury in the draw with Germany.
Having become Chile’s all-time top-scorer by scoring early against Germany, Arsenal’s striker Alexis Sanchez will be looking to add to his tally of 38 international goals.