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Germany v Croatia preview

On the BBC coverage of Germany’s previous match, pundit Alan Hansen mentioned that the central defensive pairing could be the weak like in the side. Mertesacker has had two strong seasons with Werder Bremen but Christoph Metzelder has struggled with injury over the last season since his move to Real Madrid. This may lead some, like Hansen, to question whether Metzelder is really at the top of his game.

For me, the weak link in the defence is Marcell Jansen. He was exposed on a few occasions against Poland in Germany’s opening match and was at fault when the Poles created their best chance of the match while the game stood at 1-0. Jansen, and his Bayern Munich teammate Philip Lahm, looked excellent at going forward although Jansen looks much more vulnerable defensively.

Elsewhere on the field Ballack and Frings look as though they have a solid partnership and Fritz and Podolski had a lot of joy down the flanks in their opening match. Podolski capped his performance with two goals and will be looking to add to that in Klagenfurt tonight. Up front we all know Klose can score, he should have against Austria. He will be partnered in attack again with Stuttgart forward Mario Gomez, who some have tipped to shine at this year’s tournament.

Although they failed to show it much against Austria, Croatia are technically very good and know how to knock the ball about. Their coach Slaven Bilic looks set to drop Mladin Petric in favour of Ivan Rakitic, who will play just off lone striker Ivica Olic. Bilic will be expecting a big performance from his talented midfield of Srna, Modric, Kovac and Kranjcar. Srna and Kranjcar have proved in the past that they can cause problems for other teams but against Austria I felt that they played too narrow. Rakitic will be expected to get forward and support Olic tonight but will also offer extra help in midfield, hopefully allowing Srna and Kranjcar more freedom to get down the wings.

Prediction: Germany 2 Croatia 1

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