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Muller: Maybe Germany too relaxed about warm-up results

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany is probably the biggest surprise of the 2018 World Cup finals so far, and has left the reigning world champions with plenty of work to do if they want to qualify for the tournament’s knockout stage.

The defeat came following a disappointing set of results in warm-up games leading up to the World Cup, with a draw at home to Spain, defeats against Brazil and Austria and a narrow 2-1 win against Saudi Arabia just 9 days before their loss against Mexico.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Germany forward Thomas Muller said the team had perhaps been guilty of not taking those results seriously enough, expecting everything to fall into place once the competition got under way in Russia.

“I think we took things a bit too lightly after the warm-up games,” admitted Muller. “Inside the squad, we were self-critical and said we needed to do things, but maybe we thought that in a non-training camp context when the World Cup came around we could raise our game. And we haven’t been able to.”

Germany need to beat Sweden in Sochi on Saturday, otherwise there is a very real chance their future in Russia would no longer be in their own hands, as a point for Mexico against South Korea would mean that a draw in the final group game between Mexico and Sweden would be enough to see both teams into the last 16.

“What is important now is that we look ahead to the two major tasks lying ahead of us in this group. The pressure is on us and we have to be prepared to go the extra mile,” commented Muller.



Japan players expect tough battle against Senegal following opening win

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Japanese players all  expect a tough game against their next opponents Senegal following the opening win.

Japan and Senegal are now jointly leading Group H, after the Samurai Blue unexpectedly beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 while Senegal enjoyed an equally dramatic 2-1 victory over Poland. A further win would give either side a huge advantage for progressing into the knockout phase.

“In my opinion, the match against Senegal, which is also the second one for both sides, is the most important one for Japan in the group phase,” Eiji Kawashima, Japan’s goalkeeper and third-time World Cup player, told reporters after an open training at the FC Rubin First Team Training Ground.

He added that the Senegalese have some unique qualities, including including individual player’ abilities, which the Samurai Blue should be cautious about.

“We’ve watched the video footage of Senegal players. They are such a strong team,” said 31-year-old defender Yuto Nagatomo.

“Their speed and physical strength are something that I have expected, but (what stood out) are their discipline and strong defense as a team,” said the Galatasaray defender.

“They moved as a connected unit, with every piece interlocking,” he added.

27-year-old midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi said that though they are still enjoying the opening win, everyone now is preparing for the next match.

For him, what he is focusing now is thinking of how to handle the fact that many Senegal players are tall and fast

Japan is to play Senegal on Sunday and Poland on June 28. According to FIFA, Japan are ranked 61st in the world, well below Senegal (27), Colombia (16) and Poland (8).



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