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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Absent stars toast Germany's success

Absent World Cup-winning stars have toasted Germany's Confederations Cup success in Russia with a 4-1 semifinal win over Mexico sealing Sunday's final against Chile.

With a year to go before they defend their World Cup title, Germany's head coach Joachim Loew opted to rest most of his Brazil 2014 winners and blood the next generation.

Eyebrows were raised when Loew picked an inexperienced squad with captain Julian Draxler, 23, the most capped German in Russia with only 34 appearances.

The gamble paid off as Germany won their group and Leon Goretzka, 22, scored twice to blitz the Mexicans in the opening eight minutes of Wednesday's semifinal in only his eighth international.

"Now we want to win the title and reward ourselves for our performances so far," said man-of-the-match Goretzka.
While Germany's young guns were over-powering Mexico, their stars watching at home hailed the Sochi victory and urged their stand-ins to win Sunday's final.

- Mueller's delight -
"Fiiiiiiinnaaaaall! 4:1. Very well done @DFB_Team! #letsdoit," tweeted Thomas Mueller as Timo Werner filled his spot up front and scored Germany's third goal.
Werner, 21, who also netted twice in Sunday's 3-1 win over Cameroon in the group stages, joined Goretzka as the Confed Cup's top-scorers with three goals each.

Germany's World Cup-winning centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were equally enthusiastic.
"YES! #ConfedCup final! Proud of you boys," wrote Boateng on Twitter while Hummels posted a pictures of hands clapping alongside the German flag on his account.

With Draxler leading Germany's attack, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, Loew's first-choice attacking midfielder, was also quick to offer his congratulations.
"Yeees! Final! Really happy for you guys! Enjoy your win today," wrote Ozil.
Yet the truth is only three of the current German team – defenders Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector, plus Draxler, would be sure of places in Loew's first-choice team if the World Cup were to start now.

Nevertheless, Germany's young guns proved in Sochi that they can defend as well as attack.
- Rematch beckons -
For 89 minutes, they shut out Mexico's attack, which rallied using nearly 60 percent possession to create 25 shots on goal, compared to Germany's 12, after Goretzka's early goals.

Marco Fabian's thunderbolt free-kick gave the Mexicans a consolation goal just before the final whistle.
"No one knew what to expect when we first met up a few weeks ago," said Germany's midfielder Lars Stindl, who has scored two Confed Cup goals.

"We managed to dominate a difficult group and came through some difficult situations, now we deserve to be in the final."
Now the Germans are relishing Sunday's rematch against Chile in the final.
Stindl's equaliser in Kazan cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's early goal from a mistake in the German defence when the teams drew 1-1 in last week's group stages.

"We had a feeling the draw wasn't enough last time," said Goretzka.
"Now we have another chance against this top team.
"We want to bring the trophy home and we'll do everything we can to make that happens."

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