World Cup watch: Reus and Shirokov miss finals injured
Germany, Europe’s best hope of winning the World Cup according to Coral at 6/1, will be without Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus will miss the Brazil finals, after he sustained ankle ligament damage in their final warm-up friendly.
Joachim Low’s lads crushed Armenia 6-1, but the rampant second half display was overshadowed by the loss of a key player from their attack. Reus, 25, was the second highest scorer behind Mesut Ozil for Germany in qualifying.
Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi has been called up in this place, which should mean Reus’ Dortmund teammate Kevin Grosskreutz is more likely to feature in midfield than at full back. He conceded the penalty from which Armenia equalised, only for a rampant Germany to respond with three goals in five minutes.
Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle opened the scoring, with the first of three efforts assisted by Reus’ replacement Lukas Podolski. The Arsenal attacker netted himself to restore a German lead after Henrikh Mkhitaryan levelled from the spot. Benedikt Howedes then smuggled the rebound over the line after the Armenia goalie kept his initial aerial effort out.
Miroslav Klose broke Gerd Muller’s international goals record with a header before fellow substitute Mario Gotze bagged a brace in the last 10 minutes. Mesut Ozil, also of Arsenal, made two assists in this match.
Russia, 100/1 outsiders to win the World Cup, are also competing at the Brazil finals without a key player, as captain Roman Shirokov misses the tournament through injury. Reports from Fabio Capello’s camp vary, with some claiming the versatile midfielder is out with a long-standing back problem, while others say he needs treatment on his Achilles.
Zenit St Petersburg player Pavel Mogilevets, who has been on loan at Rubin Kazan this term, has taken Shirokov’s place on the Russian roster. Capello is 12/5 to steer this nation to top spot in Group H, which also contains African qualifiers Algeriam, dark horses Belgium and 2002 World Cup co-hosts South Korea.
Low, meanwhile, is odds-on to take Germany through a pool that pits them against Portugal, the USA and Ghana. It’s 4/7 Die Mannschaft top Group G, and 1/6 to qualify from it.