Germany looks to defend their world championship
(Photo by Fabrizio Bensch - Pool/Getty Images)

Germany will defend their world title in Russia, and bring a squad just as formidable as their last go around.

Manager Joachim Löw has named a 27 man preliminary squad to the tournament, so four of the following players will not be on the plane in two weeks time.

Let’s take a look at who Germany will bring to try and defend their championship.

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Goalkeepers (4):

  • Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen)
  • Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Team Captain)
  • Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
  • Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders (9):

  • Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)
  • Matthias Ginter (Borrusia Mönchengladbach)
  • Jonas Hector (FC Köln)
  • Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
  • Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
  • Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin)
  • Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea)
  • Niklas Süle (Bayern Munich)
  • Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders (10):

  • Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
  • Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04)
  • Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City)
  • Sami Khedira (Juventus)
  • Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
  • Mesut Özil (Arsenal)
  • Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich)
  • Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

Forwards (4):

  • Mario Gomez (Stuttgart)
  • Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)
  • Nils Petersen (Freiburg)
  • Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Who Will Start?:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Löw will likely use the same 4-2-3-1 formation he has deployed at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, formations that worked quite well.


In 2010, Germany scored 4, 4, 0, and 3 goals in the knockout stages, the one blemish coming against eventual champions in Spain. In 2014, they scored seven in the semifinals. Essentially, the system works with these players.

Neuer will start in goal if fit. If not, ter Stegen is still fantastic, and a top ten keeper in the world. Neuer’s experience and sweeper keeper abilities make him preferable, but it isn’t as if ter Stegen is a bad deputy. The back four will consist of Hector, Hummels, Boateng, and Kimmich from left to right. Toni Kroos and either Sami Khedira or Ilkay Gundogan will play as holding midfielders, while Ozil will play as the ten.

The front three is where the question marks are (in terms of selection, not quality). Sane, Muller, Reus, and Werner all have legitimate claims to start. I believe Muller, who quietly has 10 World Cup goals to his name, will start on the right. Sane, who is coming off a splendid campaign for City, will start on the right, and Werner’s pace will have him start up front. If Mario Gomez starts, Werner’s pace off the bench will be ever so useful.

Projected XI:

Neuer ©

Hector, Hummels, Boateng, Kimmich;

Kroos, Khedira;

Sane, Özil, Müller;

Werner

Strengths

Literally everything. Experience all over, pace and intelligence on defense, dominant passing and playmaking in the midfield, and pace and goal-scoring prowess up front. This team is loaded.

Weaknesses

If I have to nitpick, the midfield three aren’t the quickest. Not like that will matter—Kroos will sit back and simultaneously protect the back four and dictate the game, and Germany will dominate possession so frequently that they will seldom deal with counters.

Notable Omissions

Maybe a cop-out, but the four guys cut from the provisional 27 are notable omissions. Otherwise, Löw took who you’d expect him to take. Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, hasn’t even made the provisional squad—although to be fair, he didn’t deserve to make it, either.

Tournament Outlook

Germany has to be the favorites. Seven of the 11 players who started for them during the 2014 World Cup final (counting Sami Khedira, who was slated to start before injuring himself in pre-match warm-ups) will likely start again. The new players in the squad ooze quality—Kimmich is perhaps already the worlds best right back at 23-years-old. Sane and Werner are irresistibly good. Goretzka is a year better, after demolishing the Confederations Cup last summer.

Germany has gotten stronger after winning it all four years ago. On their day, they can beat anyone, and considering Löw’s pedigree as manager, most days will be their days.

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