Germany drop Havertz for Goretzka in crunch Spain showdown

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A Spain supporter cheers a match between Spain and Germany at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. AFP

Kai Havertz paid the price for Germany’s shock defeat by Japan in their World Cup opener as he was replaced by Leon Goretzka in the line-up to face Spain on Sunday.

The Chelsea forward struggled to make an impact in the 2-1 stumble on Wednesday and coach Hansi Flick reacted by taking him out of the side, as one of two changes.

Nico Schlotterbeck was also dropped with Thilo Kehrer starting at right-back, while Niklas Suele moves across to centre-back to shore up the heart of the defence.

Serge Gnabry will likely be tasked with playing a free-roaming centre-forward’s role in Havertz’s absence, as one of five Bayern Munich players in Germany’s front six.

Fighting for a foothold in Group E, Germany will be able to rely on Leroy Sane from the bench after the Bayern Munich winger missed the first match with a knee problem.

Spain, who thrashed Costa Rica 7-0, made one change, with coach Luis Enrique true to his word after saying he would not repeat his starting line-up, despite the comprehensive victory.

Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal replaced Cesar Azpilicueta, with the coach maintaining faith in Marco Asensio up front after his goal against Los Ticos.

Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group E match between Spain and Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 1900 GMT):

Spain (4-3-3)
Unai Simon; Dani Carvajal, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets (capt), Gavi, Pedri; Ferran Torres, Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo
Coach: Luis Enrique (ESP)

Germany (4-3-3)
Manuel Neuer (capt); Thilo Kehrer, Niklas Suele, Antonio Ruediger, David Raum; Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka; Thomas Mueller, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala
Coach: Hansi Flick (GER)

Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)

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