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Walking the tight rope: Germany set to be without Hummels vs Sweden

Sochi: Germany are likely to be without centre-back Mats Hummels in Saturday's crunch World Cup clash against Sweden, coach Joachim Loew said.

"Mats Hummels will probably not be able to play. He somehow dislodged a vertebra in his neck yesterday (Thursday) and has not improved," Loew said at Friday's pre-game press conference.

"There is still time, but when things like that happen you don't generally improve overnight." Chelsea's Antonio Ruediger would be the likely replacement for Hummels alongside Jerome Boateng in the heart of the German defence.

Blessed with a strong squad brimming with talented players, Germany were hot contenders to become the first team in 56 years to retain the World Cup.

Germany were all over the place in the first half against Mexico and their heroics in Brazil four years ago seemed distant. After the defeat, there have been catcalls to drop under-performing players like Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.

Sweden, meanwhile, will believe they can cause another upset after their confidence lifting 1-0 win over Korea Republic. This was their first win in the competition since hosting the tournament in 1958.

The Swedes are no strangers to upsetting the odds, beating France during qualification and getting past Italy in the play-offs, so an under-performing German side will

hold no fears for Janne Anderson's men.

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