Germany's Loew opts for fringe players against Brazil

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It will take a long time for Brazilians to expunge that awful result from their minds, but the Selecao began the process on Tuesday as Gabriel Jesus' first-half strike earned them a narrow win. This is a different Brazil, a better-balanced outfit under impressive coach Tite. "Brazil is definitely one of the World Cup favorites".

By presenting Gundogan and Sane to the media, Germany made another point: these two footballers, about to become Premier League champions with Manchester City, are proof that there is talent that was unused in 2014 now available to a stronger, perhaps better Germany as they plan their defence of the World Cup title in Russian Federation.

But fewer fireworks are expected this time with both nations missing key players and busy tinkering with their preparations for the World Cup in Russian Federation which begins in June.

The two sides last met in the 2014 semi-finals in Belo Horizonte with the Germans coasting to a stunning 7-1 triumph against a home team which collapsed under the heavy burden of expectations and the absence of star forward Neymar. The Copa America took place in consecutive years in 2015 and 2016 (the second being in celebration of the tournament's centenary), and yet Dunga's side performed well in neither.

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"Football is nearly something spiritual for Brazilians, so I can understand that the 7-1 still has an effect", said Sane.

Brazil maintained its momentum into the second half.

The key difference between Brazil now and that of the past few regimes is that the team looks far more balanced now. Real Madrid's Casemiro has already been earmarked as the man to complete the midfield trio -though Manchester City's Fernandinho can also slot in if required. A back four with Dani Alves and Marcelo flanking Inter Milan's Miranda and PSG's Marquinhos seems the preferred choice while Roma goalkeeper Alisson tends to keep City's Ederson on the bench. Germany thought it may have won a penalty in the seventh minute through Leroy Sane, who blazed down the left wing on a lightning-quick counter attack after Brazil gave away possession in the final third, but no call was given and play continued on.

Neymar was part of the Brazil squad for World Cup 2014, missing the Germany game through injury. It was the ultimate sign of overreliance on one player and Jogi Lowe's side could smell blood right there and then. Serbia did not click in their 2-1 defeat to Morocco and are running out of time to prove they can cope with a group that includes Brazil this summer. This looks a good opportunity against Didier Deschamps' side, who have conceded at least twice in five of their last 11 games and continue to look unbalanced despite their wealth of attacking talent.

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