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Germany the favorite for 2018: Would you bet against them?


Seven wins, no losses, eighteen goals, four goals allowed and a six-goal defeat of the host nation/No.1 team in the world: this is how Germany’s World Cup run looks after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Argentina in the title match.

And I’m here to tell you: they should get better.

While the same thing may’ve been said about Spain after their 2010 World Cup preceded this tournament’s failure, it’s hard to imagine Germany’s future will follow that path. Through the 2016 Euro in France and into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Die Mannschaft should continue to function at a very, very high level.

[ MORE from our 2014 World Cup review ]

Would you bet against Germany becoming just the third team to win back-to-back World Cups?


1) (Most of) the boys will be back

While Miroslav Klose will ride off into the sunset for sure, there are few other on the roster who should be ruled out of competing for the 2018 World Cup trophy. Captain Philipp Lahm will be 34 to go with a trio of 33-year-olds (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker). Of that group, only Podolski and Mertesacker seem longshots.

Here are the 2018 ages for some key figures in the 2014 run:

Toni Kroos, 28
Thomas Mueller, 28
Andre Schurrle, 27
Sami Khedira, 31
Mario Goetze, 26
Mesut Ozil, 29
Jerome Boateng, 29
Mats Hummels, 29
Benedikt Howedes, 30
Manuel Neuer, 32

Julian Draxler and Matthias Ginter made the side at 20, Christoph Kramer at 23 and Shkodran Mustafi at 22. They’ll seemingly only get better.

2) And those young guys who were on the fringe…

Here’s a list of players Germany left home, and their ages for 2018:

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 26
Marco Reus, 29
Lars Bender, 29
Pierre-Michel Lasogga, 26
Emre Can, 24
Kevin Volland, 25

3) Russia is closer to Germany than Brazil

I know! It surprised me, too.

Aside from falling in the 1998 quarterfinals in France, here are Germany’s finishes in World Cups played in Europe dating back to 1938: third, first, second, first, second, fourth, first.

4) The mighty BuLi!

If there’s a league that can compare to the Premier League, the Bundesliga can make the most claims. And only seven of the 30 players that made up Germany’s preliminary World Cup roster were plying their trade away from the BuLi.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan