Germany’s defence of the World Cup got off to the worst possible start, as they came up short against an initially vibrant but increasingly desperate Mexico but for whom Hirving Lozano’s goal after 35 minutes was enough.
Joachim Löw had started with seven players who had guided Germany to victory in Brazil four years ago but that looked more and more like a hopeful reliance on experience. Instead all Löw got was tired performances from Sami Khedira – who was taken off in the second half – Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller, three of his most important players.
This may not be as disastrous as it looks if they want to take some relief from the history books. The last time Germany lost the opening match at a World Cup was 1982 – against Algeria – but that year they still reached the final.
Mexico had slowly taken charge of the first half with their breaks through midfield becoming increasingly dangerous and finally they profited when Lozano – Mexico’s brightest prospect for a long time – found himself inside the area and with enough time to guide his shot inside Manuel Neuer’s near post.
The expected response from Germany was immediate but not quite good enough as Kroos’s free-kick three minutes later was touched on to the crossbar by Guillermo Ochoa. In the second half Josh Kimmich tried an overhead kick but that looped over the bar and by the end the reddened, exhaused face of Mesut Özil perhaps told the story, leaving Mexico to enjoy their evening in Moscow.
Germany Starting XI
1 Neuer 18 Kimmich 17 Boateng 5 Hummels 2 Plattenhardt 8 Kroos 6 Khedira 13 Muller 10 Ozil 7 Draxler 9 Werner
12 Trapp 4 Ginter 11 Reus (s 60′) 14 Goretzka 15 Sule 16 Rudiger 19 Rudy 20 Brandt (s 86′) 21 Gundogan 23 Gomez (s 79′) 3 Hector 22 Ter Stegen.
Mexico starting XI
13 Ochoa 3 Salcedo Ayala 15 Moreno 23 Gallardo 16 Herrera 18 Guardado 7 Layun 11 Vela 22 Lozano 14 Hernandez
- 1 Corona 4 Marquez (s 73′) 5 Gutierrez 6 Jonathan 8 Fabian 9 Jimenez (s 66′) 10 Giovani 17 Corona 19 Peralta 20 Aquino 21 Alvarez (s 58′) 12 Talavera