No repeat of that 7-1 hiding: Kroos

Toni Kroos attempting to put the shackles on team-mate Joshua Kimmich during their training session. Germany take on Brazil tomorrow in a repeat of their 2014 semi-final, when they gave Brazil a 7-1 thrashing.
Toni Kroos attempting to put the shackles on team-mate Joshua Kimmich during their training session. Germany take on Brazil tomorrow in a repeat of their 2014 semi-final, when they gave Brazil a 7-1 thrashing.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Germany star says Brazil, despite Neymar's absence again, are now 'two grades' better

BERLIN • Germany and Brazil meet tomorrow for the first time since Joachim Low's men thrashed the hosts of the 2014 World Cup 7-1 in the semi-finals.

Midfielder Toni Kroos scored a brace for the eventual champions as they blitzed Brazil, who were missing injured star forward Neymar, with five goals in a dramatic opening 30 minutes of what became the heaviest home defeat in the Selecao's history.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos is, however, not expecting a repeat in their mouth-watering friendly at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin .

"When I look at the current team in comparison to 2014, they are two grades better," said the 28-year-old. "They have really good people, my (Real Madrid) team-mate Casemiro is doing well - they have come together well.

"Brazil are definitely one of the World Cup favourites."

Like that fateful night in Belo Horizonte, Neymar will again be absent from Brazil's line-up due to foot surgery. Germany winger Leroy Sane believes there is still a discernible difference in quality when the world's most expensive footballer does not feature for the five-time world champions.

TEAM TO BEAT

When I look at the current team in comparison to 2014, they are two grades better. They have really good people, my (Real Madrid) team-mate Casemiro is doing well - they have come together well. Brazil are definitely one of the World Cup favourites.

TONI KROOS, the German midfielder who scored two goals in that famous 7-1 victory over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, on their current team.

"Brazil aren't as dependent on Neymar as they were in 2014," said Sane. "They are better positioned and have a few new stars, but it still makes a big difference whether Neymar plays or not."

Both teams are building up to the June 14-July 15 World Cup in Russia and Low has stoked the flames, saying the rout will remain a subject "for the next 10, 20 or 30 years" whenever the teams meet.

Sane concurred with his coach's assessment. "Football is almost something spiritual for Brazilians, so I can understand that the 7-1 still has an effect," he said.

"They live for football, but they will live their 'joie de vivre' again at the 2018 World Cup.

"They are a great team with a good mix of old and young players, they are technically strong, but they also have tough players in defence.

"They can't be underestimated, because they are clearly among the World Cup favourites."

Low has said he expects to make up to five changes from the team which drew 1-1 with Spain on Friday with Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil both rested, while Emre Can has dropped out with a back injury.

Sane is expected to take Julian Draxler's place against Brazil while his Manchester City team-mate Ilkay Gundogan could replace Sami Khedira in midfield.

Despite their capitulation four years ago, Selecao legend Roberto Carlos insists Brazil, led by coach Tite - are favourites to win the World Cup and has backed Neymar to light up the tournament.

"Brazil are favourites," the 44-year-old told Omnisport. "I'm Brazilian, of course I'll want Brazil to win the World Cup.

"I see Brazil playing and I can't find any other team who are playing like them. The Brazilian squad is a group, it's not only Neymar.

"And beyond that, they have an extraordinary coach (in Tite). Brazil are the favourites.

"When you lose (the semi-final) as we lost in 2014, what I see is that with this new coach and squad, it's time Brazil start winning again."

The former Real Madrid star feels Brazil, who face Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage, will catch their opponents off guard in Russia.

"One squad with five world titles must win the sixth," Carlos added. "Spain have one (title), they have a great squad. The thing is that everybody knows how Spain are playing.

"Brazil have a new model of playing football. This can be a surprise to the opponents."

Carlos is also confident that Neymar will recover in time to lead Brazil's bid for a sixth title.

"It's a pity about this injury but Neymar is doing everything right to be the best in the world," he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2018, with the headline 'No repeat of that 7-1 hiding: Kroos'. Print Edition | Subscribe