FIFA World Cup 2018™: Can Germany Retain The World Cup?
Germany, the 2014 World Cup holders, qualified top of their group in UEFA qualification,
winning every game and amassing a goal difference of plus 39. Germany shared the goal-scoring
around as well – Thomas Muller and Sandro Wagner, who did not make the squad for the
finals, scored five each; Julian Draxler, Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner, and Leon Goretzka
all managed three.
Germany line up in a 4-2-3-1. The defensive spine is solid, with Bayern Munich partners
Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels working well together for club and country; Antonio Rudiger
is a capable deputy as well. Defensively, Germany press high, and if the opposition
take the ball wide, they tend to fall into a 4-3-3 aligned on the side of the opposition’s
attack, seeking to narrow the pitch. Should the opposition switch play, Germany will align
into a 4-4-2, with the central attacking midfielder pushing up alongside the loan striker, and
the wide players making the first bank of four. The aim is to win the ball back by pressing
and counter attack, using the speed and attacking abilities of the wide men, supported by the
aggressive full backs. The full backs, especially Joshua Kimmich, will also push up and in to
assist the midfield winning the ball, which then allows Germany opportunities to counter
into the vacated wide spaces.
Germany are a quick and creative side, who like to play a possession-based style. They
are comfortable building from the back, using a square of the two centre backs and two central
midfielders to recycle possession, until either the full backs or wide players can be found
with a pass. It’s a style used by the more possession-based Bundesliga sides like Bayern
and Dortmund, so it’s no surprise to see it used by Germany as well.
The full backs, especially Kimmich, get forwards to support the wide players, either on the
overlap to drag a marker wide or get into space for a cross, or to carry the ball then
release the wide player into space. The full backs’ vertical movement is covered by the
centre backs, who split wide, and by one of the central midfielders, so as not to leave
the side too exposed at the back.
Germany have experimented quite a lot with their front four. Thomas Muller, perhaps the
side’s main goal threat, can play as a lone striker, in the 10 position, or out wide on
the right cutting inside. Timo Werner excels as a striker playing on the shoulder of the
last defender. Mario Gomez is more of an aerial threat and will bring other players into the
attack with his holding up of the ball and lay-offs or flick-ons. Germany can also play
a variety of people in the 10 role, with Mesut Ozil probably favourite to start; Draxler
and Goretzka could be used here too, though both have also been used in wider roles.
It’s hard to discern a weakness in this German side. The fitness of Manuel Neuer will
be closely monitored, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a capable deputy. An injury to Kimmich
would be problematic, as Germany do not have another natural right back in their squad,
and should Sami Khedira struggle at any point, Germany seem exposed in the midfield ball-winning
department, with only Sebastian Rudy an obvious replacement. This is also a team reasonably
light on World Cup experience: Mario Gotze did not make the cut, and some of 2014’s
heavy hitters have retired. Having said that, every area of the team boasts at least two
players with over 60 caps, except in goal, so Low’s side are far from naïve.
While Toni Kroos and Mseut Ozil are the key creators, and Thomas Muller the obvious goal
scorer, Joshua Kimmich is a youngster who could have a huge impact. Kimmich has been
in superb form with Bayern and works exceptionally well with Muller down the right, should Low
start Werner up front.
Die Mannschaft are considered favourites by many for Russia 2018. It’s not hard to see