24 min: “I’m working on a joke,” begins JR from Illinois with impeccable timing. “Knock knock. Who’s there?. Rojo and Otamendi.
“That’s it. What do you think? I guess it’s kinda mean, isn’t it? But really, they’re not very good. And Rojo was just the one who slid in and missed the ball right before the goal. It was a fantastic goal by Gnabry though. Dude’s on fire.” That second one, though. He’s supposed to be playing at centre-back.
Goal! Germany 2-0 Argentina (Havertz 22)
Oh dear! Rojo tries to nutmeg someone on the left and gets the ball taken off him. With Rojo completely out of position, Germany race forwards with Gnabry playing a simple square pass into the space where Rojo should be for Havertz to sidefoot powerfully home. This could be ugly.
19 min: Argentina look a little rushed in everything they do. They need some zen in their boots. Rodrigo De Paul is especially jumpy in midfield. He looks like he’s trying too hard to please. Germany are just gradually moving through the gears.
17 min: Germany are suddenly all over Argentina. Brandt tries to square to Gnabry when he should shoot on the edge of the box and then Can wallops a hot at goal that is deflected wide for a corner. Halstenburg gets his head to it but it drops kindly for Marchesin.
Goal! Germany 1-0 Argentina (Gnabry 15)
Sule pings a ball across to Klostermann on the right. The wing-back takes a lucky touch and then hares to the line and pulls back a low cross to Gnabry on the edge of the six-yard box. He pokes the ball away from the defender sliding in behind him and then pokes past Marchesin to put Germany 1-0 up. So very simple but a good poacher’s goal from the in-form winger.
12 min: Rodrigo De Paul has just nutmegged two Germany players on a rampant run forwards. He was eventually muscled out of it by Süle and shouldered to the floor by Halstenberg. The referee’s not keen on this turning into a bad-tempered affair so he calls Kimmich over to have a word.
9 min: Emre Can clears in the Germany penalty area. It’s a wild clearance that could quite easily be a penalty, given he took as much of the ball as man.
8 min: The Tottenham-slayer, Gnabry, stretches his legs on the right but as he cuts inside he’s faced by Otamendi, who does well to force the winger to knock the ball out of play as he tries to round him.
7 min: “I grew up near Guildford and the highlight for me was my mate Alan buying a trilby from popular 80s menswear establishment Fosters,” writes Steve Hoare. “The lowlight would be getting carried out of nightclub Bojangles by two burly bouncers for no reason I could think of. Meanwhile, why is there an astronaut walking up North Street behind Luis Figo? I don’t remember them hanging in Guildford when I was there.” I’ve no idea. Gentrification?
6 min: Germany speed things up, playing some neat triangular passes around Argentina on the right but Havertz’s lofted cross into the box is easily plucked out of the air by Marchesin.
4 min: Germany nick the ball off Argentina after some ponderous play at the back by the visitors but they can’t work their way through the compact Argentina midfield. It’s not really got going, to be honest. What’s going on in Guildford?
2 min: It’s a scrappy start, with some sloppy passing from both sides and a couple of crunching tackles as a result.
1 min: We’re under way. Germany, in their famous white shirts are kicking from right to left on my screen. Argentina, in their less famous black away kit are going the other way.
The teams trot out on to the pitch. The national anthems quiver through the air, which means it’s almost time for football.
The Westfalenstadion is filling up nicely. It’s Wednesday night in Dortmund – what else is there to do? There’s a lovely mosaic on the Yellow Wall of a Germany player acrobatically volleying a star. It looks rather splendid.
Gian Luca-Waldschmidt is making his Germany debut tonight. The Freiburg striker has scored four times in the Bundesliga this season, which is a decent return from seven games. He was red-hot in the summer at the Under-21 Euros. He scored seven goals for Germany as they finished runners-up to Spain. That’s a goal every 64 minutes!
Breaking news! Nothing to do with this match but what a signing for Guildford Phoenix. Will we see Manuel Neuer on the ice when he retires?
On the subject of English players having to go to Germany to develop, Neal Butler would like to point me in the direction of Stamford Bridge. “Ahem. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, and Fiyako Tomori would presumably beg to differ …” It’s a fair cop, Neal.
Germany’s captain tonight is Joshua Kimmich, a wonderfully versatile and increasingly influential player. Here he is at Oktoberfest in Munich, either getting in the spirit or perhaps learning that he’s going to be captaining Germany against Argentina. He’s the new Philipp Lahm.
While we wait for kick-off in Dortmund, why not cast your eyes over these youngsters at Premier League clubs. They will probably end up playing in Germany themselves, given that’s the only place young English players seem to flourish these days.
Germany starting XI: Ter Stegen; Halstenberg, Süle, Koch, Klostermann; Can, Kimmich; Gnabry, Havertz, Brandt; Waldschmidt.
Niklas Stark has caught the lurgee so Halstenberg comes into defence for Germany.
Argentina starting XI: Marchesín; Foyth, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Pereyra, Paredes, De Paul; Correa, L. Martínez, Dybala.
Scaloni named his starting XI yesterday so unless there has been an illness or unfortunate twang among his squad, it should look like the one I’ve published above.
Evening! It’s a meeting of glittering heavyweights in Dortmund. Germany and Argentina have won six World Cups between them. Their current iterations are somewhat in transition, though, and require some rebuilding work if they hope to add to that haul anytime soon. Both nations flopped at the 2018 World Cup and Argentina suffered the deep disappointment of being knocked out of the 2019 Copa América by Brazil in the semi-finals. Germany’s form has been patchy – by their impeccable standards – since Russia, with a disappointing Nations League campaign and in Euro 2020 qualifying they have looked disjointed at times, never more so than in the 4-2 home defeat by the Netherlands last month.
Joachim Löw is trying to fast-track a new generation of younger players into becoming Germany regulars. Players such as Niklas Süle, Serge Gnabry and Julian Brandt are assuming more responsibility after Löw ruthlessly ended the international careers of most of the 2014 World Cup winners, so teething problems are to be expected. With Marc-André ter Stegen starting in place of Manuel Neuer this evening, and Toni Kroos injured, none of the Brazil 2014 alumni will be on show.
Argentina were the runners-up in 2014 and they too are being overhauled by their manager, Lionel Scaloni. His starting XI this evening may look even more experimental than usual given he is without a number of Boca Juniors and River Plate players, who are preparing for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final second leg. On top of that, Lionel Messi is still suspended and Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María have been left out. Nicolas Otamendi will start this evening. Scaloni will be hoping he doesn’t bring his maverick Manchester City form to the occasion. The lesser-spotted Marcos Rojo will play too. He will be the only starter from the Brazil 2014 final.
They have played each other only once since the World Cup final, a Dusseldorf friendly in September 2014. On that occasion Argentina won 4-2. I’m hoping for similar entertainment this evening.
Kick-off: 7.45pm BST, 8.45pm local, 3.45pm Buenos Aires.
My prediction: Germany 3-2 Argentina.