We’re coming up on the four-year anniversary of Mario Götze finding the back of the net in extra time of the 2014 World Cup Final against Argentina, giving Die Mannschaft it’s first World Cup title in almost two-and-a-half decade.
Now fast forward to the 2018 World Cup, and the question becomes: what will the German national football team do for an encore. Or, put another way: will Die Mannschaft become the first team to repeat as World Cup champions since the Brazilians did it in 1958 an 1962?
If we’re to extrapolate anything from Germany’s performance in the World Cup qualifyers, then they’re well on their way to attempting a historic repeat. They strung together a perfect record in their qualifying games, and waltzed to a Confederation Cup win with their B-team.
But like any of the favorites to win this year’s world tournament, Germany will have to make it out of a Group F filled with nations who won’t back down from the German machine. They’ll start things off against Mexico, the latter of whom will be fielding a whole slew of players with experience playing in Germany’s top leagues, including Javier Hernández, Andrés Guardado, Marco Fabián and Carlos Salcedo; that’s not even mentioning Mexico’s young superstar Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. Sweden, who is Germany’s next opponent, has 68 players with Bundesliga experience. Even South Korea, who rounds out Germany’s Group F opponents, has players like Heung-min Son with experience playing for Bundesliga teams like Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen.
But it’s going to be hard for any team — in Group F, or beyond — to match the depth and the zeal of Germany’s team. Toni Kroos is a dominant midfielder who brings the veteran savvy of being able to control the pace of the game, and set up the rest of his teammates. Guys like Thomas Müller and Sandro Wagner had goals five each in the qualifying stagesof the tournament. Up-and-coming star midfielder Leon Goretzka looks like the next household name.
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Add in the fact that Germany heavily incorporates information from one of the most sophisticated football analytics systems ever developed, it’s not hard to see why Joachim Low isn’t afraid to work on different schemes and strategies that could be implemented against unsuspecting teams.
If Die Mannschaft has a weakness, it might be the potential loss of team Captain and starting goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. If he’s not fit to play in the Cup, it will be a huge blow for a team that relies as much on the intangibles he brings to the team, as he does his play and experience.
Regardless, most people think there is little reason this balanced German squad should get out of their group unscathed, continue their march through the tournament, and be among the last teams standing. And there are plenty of reasons they could be the lone team standing — and becoming back-to-back winners –when it’s all said and done, if they play up to their level of skill, talent, and national pride.