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Germany are the team to beat in Russia

The World Champions are setting their targets on another masterclass

Love them or loathe them, there aren’t too many World Cup teams that have been as consistently good as Germany. The World Champions are fancied by the bookies as second favourites. Joachim Löw takes Die Mannschaft to his third consecutive World Cup as head coach. The Deutsche Fußball-Bund have had a plan, they’ve stuck to it and so far it’s being executed to near perfection.

Forging a winning side

Rewind back to 2006, Germany fell at the semi-final on home turf. Four years earlier they lost out to Brazil in the final. In 2010 they went on a deep-run only to be knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual winners, Spain. In 2014 the script was set for a home nation World Cup triumph. Löw’s side never read the script and they had other ideas. A 4-0 rout against Portugal highlighted the kind of form that the Germans were in but it was their display in the semi-finals that really caught the eye.

Germany played without fear against the hosts, in what is arguably one of the greatest results in World Cup history. Brazil were on the verge of a World Cup dream led by Luiz Scolari. “Big Phil” along with his compatriots could do nothing but marvel over Germany’s ruthlessness in front of goal. Brazil’s defending was questionable on the night. They were also without the injured Neymar, but don’t take anything away from Germany’s magnificent performance. A final score of 7-1 left the football community ‘speechless’.

The 2014 final was a replay of the 1986 and 1990 finals. Argentina, led by Lionel Messi had much of the possession but as the game went into extra time Mario Götze took advantage of some poor defending to net the winner. Germany became the first European nation to win the World Cup outside of Europe.

Russia 2018 – a force to be reckoned with

Löw’s 23-man selection left many pundits and fans scratching their heads. Leroy Sane was one of many quality players that were omitted from the German squad. Sane scored 10 goals in Manchester City’s title-winning season, yet such is the strength in depth for Germany he was left out. Götze, the hero of 2014 has also been left out of Löw’s squad after struggling with fitness during the domestic season.

We saw that it was not his season, not the normal form with his quality. I think he has immense quality and he has proved this but he was not in that form. Joachim Löw, Europsort

Manuel Neuer looks to have regained fitness to wear the captain’s armband. Neuer suffered a serious injury in September, his return to the national side is a huge boost to morale. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper has revolutionised the role of the keeper in the modern game.

He’s not lost it, even though he’s been out for seven or eight months. Sepp Maier, fcbayern.com

Defensive Stalwarts

Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Joshua Kimmich will provide Löw with a reassurance at the back. The Bayern Munich trio will transfer their domestic synergies onto the international stage.

Flexibility in the forward line

Löw favours Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos to anchor the German midfield. Such a tactic allows flexibility behind the lone striker. Thomas Müller is likely to play in a trio alongside Mezut Özil. Müller is a very influential player for Die Mannschaft and Löw has made the most of his versatility, a trait that will provide the opposition with a real headache. Özil is a different player in the colours of Germany to the colours of his club side Arsenal. It’s up to the head coach to get the best out of his No.10.

Timo Werner

Timo Werner is a hot prospect and one to watch at this year’s tournament. Scouts from Europe’s top clubs will be watching the German youngster’s performances closely in Russia. The RasenBallsport Leipzig striker scored seven goals in 12 games for Germany. During the 2017/18 season, he scored 21 goals and had nine assists for club and country. Werner wears the No.9 shirt in Russia. Don’t be surprised to see Löw selecting Werner to spearhead the German attack. Blessed with pace and great composure, he’s highly likely to be among the goals in Russia.

With several players vying for each position, there seems to be a healthy competition among the German squad. Germany look predictively well-prepared to reach a fifth consecutive World Cup semi-final. Could they become only the third team to successfully defend the World Cup (Italy in 1934 and 1938 and Brazil in 1958 and 1962)?

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