Getting to know Germany: The reigning World Cup champions head into Russia as one of the clear favorites to hoist yet another title, despite having a significantly different squad than four years ago. Joachim Low and his side do benefit from getting star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer back just in time for the tournament, which gives Germany extra assurance in front of net.
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Although familiar faces like Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are long gone from the international picture, Germany boasts one of the fiercest attacks in the competition with Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller, while relying on an experienced center back pairing of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to keep opposition at bay as the Germans aim to capture their fifth World Cup victory.
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What group are they in? Low and Co. will be paired with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden in Group F, as the Germans will be expected to be heavy favorites to not only top the group but do so in style.
Game schedule – Group F – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here
Sunday, June 17: Germany v Mexico, Moscow 11 am, ET
Saturday, June 23: Germany v Sweden, Sochi 2 pm, ET
Wednesday, June 27: South Korea v Germany, Kazan 10 am, ET
Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) — Check out the 23-man squad list in full
Kimmich ——– Boateng ——- Hummels ———- Hector
Kroos ——- Khedira
Muller —- Ozil —- Draxler
Star player: Timo Werner — For all the success that Germany has had throughout the years, have they ever had a full-on superstar in their squad? The beauty of this team is they have an embarrassment of riches in a variety of positions, however, Werner is the guy to watch in this tournament. Despite only boasting 13 caps heading into the World Cup, Werner has seven international goals and will be expected to build on that goal total in Russia.
Manager: Joachim Low — In terms of managers at the World Cup, there’s Joachim Low and then there’s everybody else. That’s not a slight on the other 31 coaches heading to the World Cup, but Low’s track record speaks for itself. Since taking over Germany, the worst the country has finished at a major competition is fourth. That encompasses World Cups, European Championships and the Confederations Cup, which Germany ironically enough won last summer with many of its stars in preparation for Russia.
Secret weapon: Marco Reus — When healthy Reus is arguably one of the top attackers in the Bundesliga. The problem recently for the Borussia Dortmund man is that he hasn’t be able to keep a clean bill of health. Heading into Russia, Reus is fit though, making him a viable option for Low to turn to off the bench.
Prediction: Between Germany’s track record at major competitions and the current squad Low has coming into this summer, the European giants are on pace for yet another lengthy run at the World Cup. They should breeze through Group F, before benefiting from being on the “easier” side of the bracket if everything holds true. A semifinals clash with Spain appears very likely, which could shape up to be the match of the tournament, and potentially decide the de facto World Cup champion.Follow @MattReedFutbol