Germany over shock defeat, ready to get back to winning
By TALES AZZONI
SOCHI, Russia (AP) Germany has had time to accept and learn from its shock defeat in its World Cup opener. Now the defending champions are ready to get back to winning and secure a spot in the second round.
Germany takes on Sweden on Saturday in Sochi with hopes of rebounding from the 1-0 loss to Mexico, a defeat that left players and coaches struggling to grasp what went wrong.
"The mood has improved a lot. I think we needed a couple of days to really digest the first match," forward Mario Gomez said Friday through a translator. "Everything surrounding it was an avalanche, a deluge on the team, and of course we are looking forward to this match (Saturday) given that this adds to the challenge."
Players said they had some blunt and honest conversations after the loss.
"We've talked about what happened," Gomez said. "When you look at the images, of course, the first impression is not that positive. Quite a number of things didn't work out on the pitch in the first match. But we've turned the page now and we are focusing on the next task and getting our heads up again. We are still a very strong team, with excellent quality and we have to show this talent on the pitch tomorrow."
Coach Joachim Loew said the goal is to make sure the mistakes that happened against Mexico are not repeated against Sweden.
"It hurt, that goes without saying," Loew said. "But the mistakes, and there were quite a few that were committed in this match, we've really analyzed them, we've talked about that and I believe we've adopted the right measures. So right now I can feel there's a positive tension and focus on the team."
Loew said he could see in training that players were reacting positively to adversity, but said their performance against Sweden "is what counts."
Sweden and Mexico are tied atop Group F with three points each. Germany and South Korea have zero points.
Loew praised Sweden's "cohesiveness" and "strong mentality" but said Germany could overcome the challenge if it stuck to its winning formula from recent years.
"We should not start doubting our style of play," Loew said. "If the players bring to the pitch their talent and their idea and their abilities, then we will prevail.
"We have to react," he said. "And if we win, we are back in the race."
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Updated June 22, 2018