GELENDZHIK, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden scout Roger Sandberg is not expecting Germany to make many changes for their World Cup game on Saturday, despite the world champions’ flat performance in a 1-0 defeat by Mexico in their opening match.
The Germans are in danger of failing to make it past the group stage for the first time in 80 years if they fail to beat Sweden in Sochi on Saturday.
“(Coach) Jogi (Joachim) Loew in particular has shown that he has great confidence in the players he chooses, and even if they’ve had setbacks he has continued to show confidence in them,” Sandberg said on Thursday.
“There is a risk that one could under-estimate them after some poor games, but it would be very regrettable to fall into that trap,” he added.
“They are a skilful football team, even in the recent past. I saw a game against Spain in March where they were fantastic for large parts of the game,” Sandberg said.
“They’re a great team that one should have great respect for, but maybe you don’t need to be afraid of your life of them.”
The 46-year-old former Swedish league defender was given the unenviable task of studying Germany with a view to finding their vulnerabilities.
“Every team has weaknesses, regardless of whether we are talking about the world champions or the Allsvenskan ... (but) the weaknesses in Germany are maybe not so obvious,” he said.
The Swedes, 1-0 winners over Peru in their first Group F game, have not beaten the Germans in a competitive game in 60 years, but they could send the Germans home after the first round for the first time since 1938.
With that scenario on the horizon, many German players have come in for criticism with calls for under-performing players to be dropped form the team.
“(Mesut) Ozil is one of the players that has had the most criticism, and that has happened over a long time in both the club and the national team,” Sandberg said.
“If he was dropped it wouldn’t be a huge shock, they have many good alternatives in that position, but it’s not what I expect,” he added.
Sandberg expects Germany to play the same way they always do.
“If you take Ozil or (Marco) Reus, if won’t affect how they play - as individuals they have different strengths and weaknesses and we’ll prepare the players for that,” he said.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond