Germany World Cup Preview

Can they defend their title? (Image from Sportsnet)

When it comes to the World Cup, few countries can compete with Germany in terms of historical record. Performances by Germany at the international stage almost never disappoint, with a total of 13 out of a possible 18 semi-finals being reached, making them arguably the most consistently successful team in World Cup history.
As ever, expectations will be high for Die Mannschaft as they head to Russia, looking to defend the World Cup title for their first time. Heading to Russia as reigning champions and top of the FIFA world rankings makes Germany one of the favourites for the tournament. They will be aiming to add one more to their 4 World Cups, equalling Brazil’s all-time record. However, in recent tournaments, holders of the World Cup have seemed to suffer from the ‘Champions Curse’, with Brazil being the only country to make it out of the group stage when trying to defend their title, in the last 16 years.

Recent Form

Manager Joachim Löw (Image from the Daily express)

Germany cruised through their qualifying untroubled, winning all 10 of their matches, averaging over 4 goals per game, leaving them comfortably at the top of their group. But since then, performances at friendlies haven’t quite been up to scratch, with even their star player Toni Kroos admitting earlier this year that Germany ‘aren’t as good as people think they are’.  Their first world cup warm up game may cast shadow of doubt over any potential success in the forthcoming campaign, where a lacklustre performance meant that Austria were able to turn over a one goal lead to win 2-1 against them. They improved in their second warm up match, but was still not too impressive, as they overcame a 5-game winless streak, in a fairly unconvincing 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia. Recent form hasn’t given Germany fans a huge level of confidence, but with manager Joachim Löw’s experience and successful history at the international level, fans should trust that their national team is in good hands.

Key Players

Neuer returns from injury (Image from Sportsnet)

Löw’s squad is littered with talent, including a good mix of youthful and experienced players, several of whom already have a world cup title to their name. Based on the previous matches, Germany are likely to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, but with recent results Low may consider changing up his system. Joachim Low confirmed Manuel Neuer will be their number one keeper, despite him being out for the whole season with a fractured metatarsal. This will be seen as a huge risk, especially with Barcelona’s number one keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen a more than suitable alternative in the squad. However, Neuer’s experience at this level, with him winning the golden glove at the last world cup, could be crucial to their campaign. Germany have one of the strongest centre-back pairings in the world, with Bayern Munich duo Hummels and Boateng, and their defence will be completed by Kimmich on the right and Hector on the left. However, this defence has looked slightly vulnerable in recent times, especially on the left, and they have been guilty of being opened up too easily, so Löw will have to work on this in the upcoming days.

Their midfield seems to be the strength of team, boasting an embarrassment of riches, with the likes of Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira controlling the centre of the pitch and Thomas Muller, Marco Reus and Mesut Özil likely to be deployed in a more attacking position. So much so is the depth of talent in the German midfield, that the 2014 World Cup winning goal scorer, Mario Götze and PFA young player of the year, Leroy Sane have been omitted from the final squad. Up front, promising talent Timo Werner, is likely to start. Although he will have big shoes to fill after World Cup record goalscorer Miroslav Klose retired, the Leipzig striker has made a strong start to his international career, with 8 goals in 14 games, and is definitely one to watch in Russia.

Can star striker Timo Werner continue his prolific international form? (Image courtesy of the Independent)

How far will they go?

Germany are definitely favourites to top their group, but there are certainly no easy matches for them. Placed in a group with South Korea, Mexico and Sweden, all with a lot of experience at the World Cup, Germany could face a stern challenge from any one of them. Despite this, they are expected to win all of their group stage matches. Even though recent run of form has been below-par, Germany do usually deliver at the big stage and I  predict this year will be no different. This being said, I don’t think they will retain their title, especially with other teams who are also very capable of bringing home the trophy this year, such as the likes of Brazil and France.  I predict that Germany will make it to the semi finals but not quite all the way. Germany are certainly capable of successfully defending their title but will definitely need to up their game if they are to win their 5th World Cup in Russia. If they were to hit top form during the World Cup, with the calibre of players in their squad, Germany would definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

Author: TUD Author