Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Work-in-progress Germany ready for tough Spanish test

Werner, Gnabry and Sane form a formidable attacking lineup but still question marks over Germany's defence

Germany face arguably the toughest test of their progress since their disappointing 2018 World Cup first-round exit when their full-strength team face Spain in the Uefa Nations League on Tuesday.

A combination of jettisoning experienced players such as Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels and the Covid-19 interruptions means Germany coach Joachim Low has yet to pick the same lineup this year while also looking to blood new talent.

The 3-1 victory over Ukraine on Saturday was arguably their most solid performance in months, having drawn four of their previous six matches.

Low, who has been in charge of the national team since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, has faced fierce criticism for lacklustre recent performances, but looks to have at least settled on his attack for next year's delayed European Championship.

In Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Leroy Sane Low can call on one of the quickest front three anywhere in world football.

The latter two scored all three goals against Ukraine and the trio have netted 24 times in 23 matches since the 2018 World Cup.

Low also has world-class options in midfield with Leon Goretzka, fresh from a quintuple-winning season at Bayern Munich, oozing power and precision, and 100-cap Toni Kroos back from suspension.

When they take on Spain to decide who will top Group A4 it will be a wobbly defence that faces the toughest test yet.

Having conceded equalisers in three of their four draws since September, including three goals by Turkey and a last-gasp equaliser by Spain in September, Germany's backline is still far from watertight.

But Low is confident the team will come together, with players like left back Philipp Max, who made an impressive debut last week and played against Ukraine, and rising star Robin Koch eager to make the starting lineup.

Germany are a point ahead of the Spaniards at the top of the table with the group winners advancing to the next stage of the competition.

"Our demand is to go to Spain and say that we want to win this game and not defend anything," Low said. "We are not playing against Spain for a point."

Updated: November 16, 2020 08:34 AM

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