12:45 AM BDT,28 March 2018
Germany are braced to face a much better Brazil side than the one they thrashed at the last World Cup when they meet in a friendly on Tuesday.
Germany inflicted a humiliating 7-1 defeat to knock the hosts out of their own World Cup four years ago, a stunning result which forced a lengthy period of soul-searching for Brazil.
The change in their fortunes has impressed the German players, who know there will be no repeat of that famous scoreline when they meet again in Berlin.
“Brazil today are at least two classes better than in 2014,” said Toni Kroos, who scored the third and fourth goals in Belo Horizonte.
In comments reported by Kicker, Ilkay Gundogan added: “They now have a much better balance. The mix is right. Their development has been second to none.”
As they were four years ago, Brazil will be without the injured Neymar, but coach Tite has changed much else besides since taking over.
The defence which was so shredded by Germany is mostly gone, with David Luiz and Dante displaced by Miranda and Marquinhos, while Alisson and Ederson have improved the goalkeeping.
Neymar may be missing, but in Philippe Coutinho, Douglas Costa, Willian and Roberto Firmino there are still plenty of attacking options.
Germany coach Joachim Low is likely to rotate his side after the 1-1 draw with Spain on Friday, with Gundogan among those eyeing his chance.
The Manchester City midfielder has been restricted by a miserable run of injuries in recent years, but feels he is back to his best just in time for Russia.
“It makes me happy to be at a relatively good level so close to the World Cup,” he said. “I want to keep that up. I’m fit and healthy.
“I want to play the best possible football, and to go into the closing stages of the season taking precautions would not be the right decision. When I’m on the pitch, I’m going full throttle and I try to forget everything else.”