Germany star Thomas Muller says the reigning world champions are feeling the pressure as they prepare for this weekend’s game against Sweden at risk of an unthinkably premature exit.
Joachim Low’s team are in a vulnerable position after starting their defence of the World Cup with a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mexico in Moscow on Sunday.
“We have made ourselves vulnerable. We are self-critical enough to analyse the situation, but now we must look forwards together,” Mueller said at a press conference at the German team hotel in Sochi on Wednesday.
“We have two important tasks in front of us. The pressure is terrifically high, but we won’t win both games if we beat ourselves up internally and look for the mistakes in each other. There is nothing we want more than to be successful against Sweden, you can believe us on that.”
If the Mexicans beat South Korea earlier in Group F on Saturday, Germany would know that a draw against the Swedes on Russia’s Black Sea coast would in all probability mean elimination in the opening stage.
However, the Germans have not gone out in the first round since 1938, and they will look to kickstart their campaign in Sochi before facing the Koreans next week. Low’s side came to Sochi early, giving themselves a full three days to acclimatise to the heat and humidity in this part of Russia before facing the Swedes, who are based up the coast.
Germany’s hotel looks out over the sea, a stark contrast to their permanent tournament base in the forest southwest of Moscow. “Let us hope looking at the sea will be an inspiration to reach higher things,” said Bayern Munich’s Muller.
Low will ponder changes to his starting line-up, with Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus – who appeared in front of the media alongside Muller – a contender to come into the side. And Germany will be aiming to turn around a poor run of form that has seen them claim just one unconvincing win, against Saudi Arabia, in seven games since the end of the qualifying campaign.
“We maybe took the friendlies a bit too lightly. Of course we discussed the mistakes from those games, but we thought that when the tournament got going, we would already be strong and fresh enough on the pitch,” admitted Muller. “We wrongly underestimated the situation, we couldn’t raise our game.
“We’ll come up with a different game against Sweden. Their counter-attacking game won’t be as good as the Mexicans, but they can hurt us with their physical strength.”