SOCHI, Russia: Germany are the kings of the penalty shoot-out — but the world champions hope to see off Mexico in Thursday´s (today) Confederations Cup semi-final without needing dreaded spot kicks.
The Germans have won all five penalty shoot-outs they have faced since 1976 at either World Cup finals or European championships.
Joachim Loew´s team face the Mexicans in Sochi for a place in Sunday´s Confed Cup final in St Petersburg against either Portugal or Chile, who meet later on Wednesday in Kazan´s other semi-final.
Having won their Confed Cup group, Germany are on a 13-match unbeaten run, dating back just under a year to their Euro 2016 semi-final defeat to hosts France.
Left-back Jonas Hector said Germany´s young guns have not yet practised spot-kicks and hope to beat Mexico over the 90 minutes.
“We would like to avoid this situation (penalties),” admitted Hector.
“We haven´t specifically trained for it and we´ll take it as it comes.”
Nevertheless, the Germans seem to have penalty-taking in their blood.
Their Under-21 team beat England 4-3 on penalties on Tuesday to book their place in Friday´s final at the European Under-21 championships in Poland.
Loew said he does not have a list of his top five penalty takers.
“Sometimes the players practise after training, but you can´t train for what will happen on the night,” the German coach said.
“If it happens, I will look at the faces of my players after the final whistle, take into account who is ready and who has missed them in the past, then make a decision,” added Loew.
The Germans expect a battle royal against Mexico´s come-back kings.
The Mexicans came from behind in all three of their group matches, beating both New Zealand and Russia 2-1 after drawing 2-2 with Portugal, when they twice equalised.
“It will be aggressive in a positive sense, it is how they have been playing for years,” said Loew.
“They hunt the ball with all their players and when they have it, they play it deep quickly.”
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who has chopped and changed his side so far, will be without suspended captain Andres Guardado.
Loew has promised changes with forward Lars Stindl, who has scored twice so far in Russia, expected to return along with left-back Hector.
With Manuel Neuer missing the Confed Cup after foot surgery, Loew says Barcelona´s Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be Germany´s goalkeeper for the rest of the tournament.
Mexico´s all-time top-scorer Javier Hernandez knows all about German football after two seasons with Bayer Leverkusen.
“We know them, we know about the things that could make them suffer, but we are going to focus on our team and our tactics,” said the ex-Manchester United striker.
The Germans beat Mexico 4-3 when the teams last met in the third-place play-off at the 2005 Confed Cup in Germany.
They make no secret of their confidence and expect to reach Sunday´s final. “I think in terms of gut feeling, we´re heading to St Petersburg,” said Loew.