Germany’s defence of the World Cup got off to the worst possible start as they lost their opening group game 1-0 to Mexico.
The South American side deserved their victory as they hurried Germany on the ball and took advantage when they had it.
Hirving Lozano’s goal mid-way through the first half was enough and Germany have work to do if they are going to go further in the tournament.
The Germans are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but an opening game against an impressive Mexican side will have given Joachim Low something to think about for the rest of the tournament.
Mexico’s game-plan was clear: press high on Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira and make it count when they had the ball. It left Germany a little bit stuck on how to get control of the game as the South American side dominated the opening 15 minutes. Hector Herrera saw his long-range shot well saved by Manuel Neuer, who started the game ahead of Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Minutes later, Herrera turned provider with a nicely-weighted free-kick that Hector Moreno threw his head at, but Neuer was lucky to see the ball fall right down his throat for an easy save. It was a great chance for the Mexico defender and the let-off brought Germany out of their shells.
Joshua Kimmich is well-known for his attacking traits at full-back and the Bayern Munich man nearly caused an own goal with a tremendous cross. It was Carlos Salcedo who diverted the cross with an accidental touch, but the Mexican defender was relieved to see the ball fly inches wide from six yards out.
Timo Werner was starting up front for the reigning champions after an incredible season for Red Bull Leipzig, but the striker was guilty of being too selfish in the 20th minute. Mexico were carved apart and Werner could have played in Julian Draxler but the Bundesliga forward saw his shot comfortably saved by Guillermo Ochoa.
It proved to be a damning decision as Mexico took the lead soon after. Javier Hernandez left Mats Hummels on the floor with a lovely spin before sliding a nice pass through for Lozano. The promising winger was given plenty of space to come inside past Kimmich and smash the ball in at the near post to put the Germans behind. It was a really well-worked goal and Mexico’s play had deserved it, but Germany will know their defending was poor in this moment.
The European side would get an opportunity to pull level before half-time but were left rueing their luck. It was a terrific free-kick from Kroos that left Ochoa stranded, but the ball thumped back off the crossbar to the disappointment of Low on the touchline.
The second half quickly settled into a pattern of Germany attacking and Mexico playing on the counter-attack. Kimmich sent an extravagant over-head kick into the stand from Jerome Boateng’s cross while up the other end, a better pass from Hernandez would have put Carlos Vela in clear goal-scoring position.
Julian Brandt came off the bench to flash a sublime half-volley wide, but Mexico held on for a shock win which was their first against Germany ever and possibly their biggest win ever on an international stage.