World Cup Class of 2018: Germany


German midfielder Marco Goretzky with the header in the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals against Mexico (photo credit: Source: AFP-Zimbio)

Population:  82.8 million
Capital:  Berlin
Team Colors:  White and Black
How Qualified:  Won UEFA Group C
Nickname:  Die Mannschaft
18th World Cup
Head Coach:  Joachim Löw (GER)
Key Players:  Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
Best Performance:  Champions (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
Can they repeat? It hasn’t been done since Brazil did it in 1958 and 1962. Germany are odds on to do it this year. They won the Confederations Cup with a young squad last year that will certainly see some of those faces in this year’s squad. The World Cup triumph in 2014 was the culmination of “Das Reboot”. 
Qualification was a straightforward affair as Germany finished with a 100% record in Group C. With Germany, the over-under is on how many players Bayern Munich will contribute to the squad. The starting XI for the 2014 final featured no fewer than six Bayern Munich players at the time and a seventh coming on as a sub to score the match winner (Mario Götze). 
Thomas Muller is expected to give chase to Miroslave Klose’s goal-scoring record of 16 at World Cups. Muller has 10 right now. Either Timo Werner or Sandro Wagner is expected to partner up with him up front. Both are up and comers in the German ranks. 
The depth that Germany has right now is frightening. Of the squad for the March 27th friendly against Brazil, just two were over the age of 30. Manuel Neuer, who missed most of the Bundesliga season to injury this year, would’ve made it three. If he cannot go in Russia, then Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is set to take his place. 
I didn’t even mention players like Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil, Emre Can, etc. 
Yes, Germany is deep and is one of the favorites to lift a fifth World Cup this year. But like every other team, they have to first get through the group stage which will not be the easiest. They face a Mexican side looking to progress to the quarterfinals, a Swedish side who can spring upsets, and a South Korean side you cannot count out. 
Having said that, Germany looks the best chance to retain the World Cup for the first time since Brazil retained the Jules Rimet trophy back in 1962. 
June 17:  vs. Mexico in Moscow (Luzhniki) (10am CT on FS1/Telemundo)
June 23:  vs. Sweden in Sochi (1pm CT on FOX/Telemundo)
June 27:  vs. Korea Republic in Kazan (9am CT on FS1/NBC Universo)


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