Ruthless German Machinery Eyes Record Fifth Title in Russia | SWOT Analysis
Germany’s preparations to the World Cup have seen their ruthless side as well as the side where they are less interested in the result and more in ensuring everyone in the squad has enough game time.
German national team. (Germany/ Twitter)
When Joachim Low announced his final squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, plenty of eyebrows were raised as one of the stars of the recently-concluded Premier League season; Leroy Sane was left out and so was, not surprisingly, Mario Gotze – the scorer of the winner in Brazil against Argentina in the final in 2014.
Germany’s preparations to the World Cup have seen their ruthless side as well as the side where they are less interested in the result and more in ensuring everyone in the squad has enough game time. The latter being mostly displayed in friendlies, and they have lost their last five on the bounce before the World Cup. In qualifying, Low’s team won all their matches and conceded only four goals in the ten games, showing a penchant for turning up exactly when needed.
The most worrisome aspect of Low’s preparations would have been the fitness of their goal keeper and captain Manuel Neuer, who had not played since September. Neuer has returned to action and is completely ready to lead his side as well as revolutionising goal-keeping. The rest have been in splendid form through and through, with a semi-final appearance to boast of in the Euros in 2016 in France. They lost to eventual runners-up France.
In Russia, Low will miss the services of the ever reliable Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose – all the three, experienced and calm heads, helped form the back bone of the German team through the years after the turn of the century. Die Mannschaft will surely miss their services, especially in the business end of the tournament, where they are expected to be present and anything otherwise would count as dismal failure.
The Germans are looking to tie Brazil with a fifth World Cup title at the 21st edition of the competition. The squad is not about star power, but more about working together like clockwork. Not only is their first string team is extremely talented but also their second string side was good enough to win the Confederations Cup in Russia last year.
Low has issued a ‘sex-ban’ for the duration of the World Cup, understandably in the hope that it will keep their side more focused holistically. But do they need that, given the fire-power all around the park? Low's side is full of world class talent and it is difficult to see them on the receiving end of an upset.
Calling a squad which has enough depth to win the Confederations Cup with a second string side and also afford to leave out Mario Gotze and Leroy Sane strong is an understatement. Even without the star power in their ranks, there is enough pixie dust as Low’s side that looks to build a legacy around their strongest weapon – team spirit.
The needs of the more outweigh the needs of the one, is very apt for this German side, who, with due respect to everyone, put the team’s needs before anything else. Apart from Toni Kroos who is possibly the most crucial cog in the team going forward, almost all the players were available to join the camp early which means more co-ordination and higher levels of understanding leading to a crisp display in football.
Low once again will keep thing more simple than complicated as the Germans will rely on heavily on their ability to move the ball around at great pace and move their men around at similar pace too. That apart, Low’s side who scored the most goals from set-pieces at the last World Cup will surely hone those skills furthermore ahead of their opening game in Russia. Also, the ease at which the players can interchange positions makes it all the more difficult to contain them. On most occasions they will succeed with their plan – which is the scary thought.
Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira (recently scored his first ever hat-trick in competitive football), Marco Reus, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Timo Wagner are likely to be the starting set in attack and if are allowed to take over in the middle of the park, it won’t be a very good thing for opposition teams. The duo have this uncanny habit of being able to unlocking defenses with ease thanks to their great passing ability, a factor that brings the play right into the path of their forward men who then apply the finishing touches a fair deal of accuracy.
In defense, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are among the best central defenders in the world who are backed up by the able Manuel Neuer. All three along with the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector are comfortable on the ball and are unlikely to panic under pressure.
Through the ranks and at every position one can see the quality on offer as Germany look to build their own era of dominance over world football.
Joachim Low’s side will find it hard to replace the seasoned players that they have lost in the three departments of the field. The defensive flanks and the defensive pivot in the centre of midfield remain an area where they could be found wanting in terms of experience on the big stage.
Tactically sound and technically brilliant, this Low’s side might just be perfectly balanced as they head into the World Cup. Whilst most have had the experience of the big stage internationally, it will be the team spirit that will have to take the rest over the line.
For the defending champions Germany, their first test is likely to be against Belgium in the quarter-finals, while a rematch with Brazil is a possibility in the final in Moscow. The Germans have Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.
Low side has a tricky group stage to go through and must come out unscathed to avoid a power house in the round of 16. Finishing second-best in the group stage will almost certainly throw up a match against Brazil in the next round.
Low’s side has likely had a look at the fixtures in more detail than others with regards to their route to the title defense and will surely prepare to avoid hiccups.
Given the composition and strength in every department in this 23 man squad, the one thing they have to cautious about is being over-confident. Under Low, the Germans aren’t expected to suffer from such a happenstance and are likely to be on their toes.
But not being used to the big stage is a factor for some of the players who are in crucial positions. It will be extremely important that Low’s side remain focused, and quite simply stick to plans if they don’t want to face disappointment.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St-Germain)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St-Germain), Leon Goretska (Schalke), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich)
Strikers: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
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