Spectular in aesthetics and exquisite in performance would be the simplest way to explain German automobiles. Germany, as a football team, is worthy of this description too. Be it the days of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller leading (erstwhile) West Germany to take the top honors at Euro ’72 and World Cup 1974 or the early 21st century teams with superstars like Michael Ballack who often fell at the final hurdles, Germany has always been a team that found itself at the business end of international competitions. The 2018 World Cup looks to promise more of the same.
Germany World Cup Preview
The One to Eleven:
Germany come into this World Cup with a terrifying starting line-up. Between the sticks is one of the best goalkeepers in the world – Manuel Neuer. He recently stepped up his injury rehabilitation and aims to return before the end of this season.
At the heart of the defence stand center-backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. The current Bayern Munich pair bring loads of experience and leadership to the fray. While the wing-back situation isn’t as clear, expect the likes of Jonas Hector and Benedict Howedes fill in the roles.
In midfield, Joachim Löw has an embarrassment of riches. Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan would most likely play as the anchormen, while Mesut Özil would play in the Number 10 role. The likes of Julian Draxler and Leroy Sané would play as the wide men.
Ever since Miroslav Klose hung up his boots, Germany have not had a striker in the truest sense of the term. However, Thomas Müller has fulfilled the role exquisitely over the past few years and should continue to hold his place in Russia too.
Many teams in the World Cup may be able to field strong starting line-ups but have relatively weaker players on the bench. As far as Löw is concerned, that would never be the issue. Kevin Trapp has performed admirably in Neuer’s absence and is an excellent option to start too if Neuer’s fitness isn’t up to the mark.
Shkodran Mustafi, Antonio Rudiger, and Mathias Ginter round off Löw’s options in the centreback position while players like Niklas Sule and Marvin Plattenhardt also give excellent defensive flexibility.
The already formidable midfield is bolstered by the presence of players like Leon Goretzka, Sami Khedira, Sebastian Rudy, Joshua Kimmich and Mario Götze. Each of these players have the talent to turn the game on its head should the need arise.
Timo Werner, an aging Mario Gomez, and Sandro Wagner are Löw’s striking options on the bench. A few players would obviously be left out due to the squad cap being 23 players. That said, any combination of these players still make for a potential World Cup-winning team.
Joachim Löw has been at the helm of Die Mannschaft since 2006, succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann after the World cup campaign that year. The hallmark of Löw’s teams has been the quick aggressive football they tend to play. Blessed with one of the most talented pool of players to choose from, Löw has been behind the rise of the likes of Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Mario Götze, Toni Kroos and Manuel Neuer at the international stage. While Spain has garnered most of the plaudits over the last decade, Löw’s Germany have been runners-up in Euro 2008, semifinalists in World Cup 2010, Euro 2012 and Euro 2016 along with the World Cup triumph in 2014. These credentials make them an overwhelming pre-tournament favourite for this year’s edition.
Style of Play:
Under Joachim Löw, Germany have become one of the most tactically sound teams in the world. The team generally plays fast attacking football, making full use of their frighteningly fast wingers. However, with respect to the opposition’s style of play, Germany are capable of playing possession-based or counter-attacking football. Players like Toni Kroos usually dominate the midfield, allowing Germany to control the pace of the game.
Germany are in Group F alongside Sweden, South Korea, and Mexico. While Sweden have been solid in their post-Zlatan era rebuild, they still aren’t at the level to topple Germany. South Korea and Mexico also are good teams in their own right but pale in comparison to Germany. The way the fixtures have been designed, mean that Germany may face other title-contenders only at the quarterfinals or later.
This means that Germany should reach the semi-finals without breaking much of a sweat. However, with the quality that this team possesses, a place in the final is a must if not being eventual winners.