Antonio Rudiger hopes to see teams underestimate Germany at the Confederations Cup as they prepare for their opening match against Australia.
Joachim Low selected a young squad to take to Russia as the world champions look to win the inter-continental tournament for the first time.
Established stars including Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels have all been left at home in favour of granting opportunities to up-and-coming talent ahead of next year’s World Cup finals.
Roma defender Rudiger, who is expected to start at the heart of the defence in Sochi, feels uncertainty from outside about Germany’s strength could work to their advantage.
“It wasn’t so good for me last year because of my injury so I’m looking forward to the Confederations Cup. It’s a very good chance to prove myself,” said the 26-year-old, who missed Euro 2016 due to cruciate ligament damage.
“Our group will not be easy. We have three physically strong teams. Australia will try to beat us. We don’t have all the [usual] players in our team, but that could be an advantage. Some will underestimate us.”
For Australia, Monday’s match on the Black Sea coast is their first in the competition since 2005, when they failed to progress from a group after suffering three defeats.
One of those was a thriller against hosts Germany in Frankfurt, in which Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski struck in the second half to secure a 4-3 win.
The Socceroos have lost all three of their competitive meetings with Germany and conceded at least three times in those matches, and with a 4-0 friendly loss to Brazil on Tuesday still fresh on their minds, hopes of a shock result appear to be slim.
Indeed, defender Milos Degenek – who spent four years in Germany with the Stuttgart youth team and later 1860 Munich – believes Low’s youthful group will prove just as formidable as a side packed with more senior players.
“I don’t think they have an under-strength team. Most of their players played a full season in the Bundesliga, one of the top leagues in the world,” said Degenek, who plays in Japan for Yokohama F. Marinos.
“They could bring three or four teams and the strength would still be the same.”
However, he remains determined for the AFC Cup holders to prove that they can challenge the world’s best.
“The boss has the right to say [we can win it] and I believe in that as well,” he said. “We’re here to win it. We’re not here to have fun, experience Russia and its beauty – we’re here to stay here until the second of July.”
Key Opta stats:
– Germany and Australia have met five times previously, Germany winning three matches and Australia winning one, while one draw has been shared by the sides.
– Germany are competing in their third Confederations Cup; they were eliminated at the group stage in 1999 before finishing third as the hosts in 2005.
– Australia will be taking part in the tournament for the fourth time, after 1997, 2001 and 2005. They failed to make it out of the group stage in 2005 but reached the final in 1997; losing 6-0 to Brazil, before beating the Brazilians in the third place play-off in 2001.
– Germany were the top scorers in their last Confederation Cup campaign (2005), scoring at least twice in each of their five games and finding the net 15 times in total.
– Germany are one loss away from recording their 50th competitive defeat in international football.
– Julian Draxler scored in each of the four competitions he played in for PSG this season (Ligue 1, Coupe de France, League Cup, Champions League).
– No player scored more goals than Australia’s Jamie Maclaren in the A-League regular season this year, with the Brisbane Roar striker finding the net 19 times in total (level with Besart Berisha).
– Only two players created more goalscoring chances in England’s second tier than Aaron Mooy this season (96), while only five players made more tackles than the Australian (105).