Breaking news! Nothing to do with this match but what a signing for Guildford Phoenix. Will we see Manuel Neuer on the ice when he retires?
On the subject of English players having to go to Germany to develop, Neal Butler would like to point me in the direction of Stamford Bridge. “Ahem. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, and Fiyako Tomori would presumably beg to differ …” It’s a fair cop, Neal.
Germany’s captain tonight is Joshua Kimmich, a wonderfully versatile and increasingly influential player. Here he is at Oktoberfest in Munich, either getting in the spirit or perhaps learning that he’s going to be captaining Germany against Argentina. He’s the new Philipp Lahm.
While we wait for kick-off in Dortmund, why not cast your eyes over these youngsters at Premier League clubs. They will probably end up playing in Germany themselves, given that’s the only place young English players seem to flourish these days.
Germany starting XI: Ter Stegen; Halstenberg, Süle, Koch, Klostermann; Can, Kimmich; Gnabry, Havertz, Brandt; Waldschmidt.
Niklas Stark has caught the lurgee so Halstenberg comes into defence for Germany.
Argentina starting XI: Marchesín; Foyth, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Pereyra, Paredes, De Paul; Correa, L. Martínez, Dybala.
Scaloni named his starting XI yesterday so unless there has been an illness or unfortunate twang among his squad, it should look like the one I’ve published above.
Evening! It’s a meeting of glittering heavyweights in Dortmund. Germany and Argentina have won six World Cups between them. Their current iterations are somewhat in transition, though, and require some rebuilding work if they hope to add to that haul anytime soon. Both nations flopped at the 2018 World Cup and Argentina suffered the deep disappointment of being knocked out of the 2019 Copa América by Brazil in the semi-finals. Germany’s form has been patchy – by their impeccable standards – since Russia, with a disappointing Nations League campaign and in Euro 2020 qualifying they have looked disjointed at times, never more so than in the 4-2 home defeat by the Netherlands last month.
Joachim Löw is trying to fast-track a new generation of younger players into becoming Germany regulars. Players such as Niklas Süle, Serge Gnabry and Julian Brandt are assuming more responsibility after Löw ruthlessly ended the international careers of most of the 2014 World Cup winners, so teething problems are to be expected. With Marc-André ter Stegen starting in place of Manuel Neuer this evening, and Toni Kroos injured, none of the Brazil 2014 alumni will be on show.
Argentina were the runners-up in 2014 and they too are being overhauled by their manager, Lionel Scaloni. His starting XI this evening may look even more experimental than usual given he is without a number of Boca Juniors and River Plate players, who are preparing for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final second leg. On top of that, Lionel Messi is still suspended and Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María have been left out. Nicolas Otamendi will start this evening. Scaloni will be hoping he doesn’t bring his maverick Manchester City form to the occasion. The lesser-spotted Marcos Rojo will play too. He will be the only starter from the Brazil 2014 final.
They have played each other only once since the World Cup final, a Dusseldorf friendly in September 2014. On that occasion Argentina won 4-2. I’m hoping for similar entertainment this evening.
Kick-off: 7.45pm BST, 8.45pm local, 3.45pm Buenos Aires.
My prediction: Germany 3-2 Argentina.