Ukraine speed to test new-look Germany defense

Fri Jun 10, 2016 10:04pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Germany's defense will be put to the test in their opening Euro 2016 group match against Ukraine in Lille on Sunday with major questions still to be answered about the world champions' new-look rearguard.

Coach Joachim Loew's team will be without key central defender Mats Hummels, still recovering from a muscle injury, as they kick off their Group C campaign.

Hummels' replacement Antonio Ruediger was ruled out with torn cruciate knee ligaments this week.

Holding midfielder and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, still working on his comeback from injury, is also absent, further complicating Loew's defensive conundrum.

Benedikt Hoewedes and Jerome Boateng are the two likely central defenders but both had a long injury break late in the season and are in desperate need of match practice.

Jonathan Tah, the 20-year-old who was only called up this week following Ruediger's injury, is expected to be on the bench.

Toni Kroos, who will shoulder the biggest responsibility of connecting Germany's defensive and attacking game, is brimming with confidence following his Champions League win with Real Madrid.

Assistant coach Thomas Schneider sounded confident on Friday that the team would quickly find their cohesion at the back.   Continued...

Germany's coach Joachim Loew and players during training.    REUTERS/Denis Balibouse