Germany - a guide to Die Nationalmannschaft
Many believe the time is now for Germany. Ian Watson assesses what hopes they have of going all the way in Brazil...
Last Updated: 09/06/14 11:06am
Expectations are high of Germany, with a place in the last four likely to be the minimum requirement of Joachim Low's talented squad.
After a runners-up and two third-place finishes over the last three tournaments, it is not an unreasonable projection. With a Bayern Munich core and numerous supporting acts from Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, the Germany squad is full of winners and big-game performers.
Low guided his side through an unbeaten qualification campaign but some concerns remain. The coach appears somewhat unsure of the make-up of his best rearguard, but with Manuel Neuer behind the defence and a pairing of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm ahead of it, Germany should be tight at the back and imaginative up front.
Germany's Group G fixtures:
Monday June 16: Germany v Portugal - Salvador (17.00)
Saturday June 21: Germany v Ghana - Fortaleza (23.00)
Thursday June 26: USA v Germany - Recife (17.00)
Coach: Joachim Low
Despite having a contract until 2016, anything less than another semi-final appearance could put Low's job in jeopardy. The coach, though, is perhaps a victim of his own success. After graduating from the role of Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant in 2006 - when it has been suggested that Low was the brains behind their impressive showing on home soil - the 54-year-old has brought through a group of extremely talented Under-21s and moulded them into a force to be reckoned with on the biggest stage. Low has overseen a major transition in German football, from pragmatism to an attacking approach, focused on individual skill and imaginative passing. As standards have raised, so have expectations. Low knows Germany have to deliver in Brazil.
Star man: Mesut Ozil
Low found it "incomprehensible" that Real Madrid would sell Ozil last summer, since when he has suffered dips in form after becoming Arsenal's record signing. The 25-year-old, though, has shown signs of recovering his confidence towards the end of the season - just in time for Germany. Ozil is not only Germany's greatest creative force, just as capable of dribbling past a defence as passing through one, but the attacking midfielder also finished the qualification campaign as their top scorer with eight goals. Low accepts Ozil needs the faith of his coach if he is to perform and the former Real Madrid star has been showered in love and platitudes as a consequence. Now it is payback time.
Tournament best: Winners 1954, 1974, 1990.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio).
British based players:
Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski (all Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea).
Sky Bet odds: 5/1
The three-time winners will again have their sights set on World Cup glory in Brazil. They have reached the semi-finals at the last three tournaments and are 7/2 to be eliminated at that stage and 5/1 go all the way. Joachim Low's men impressed in qualifying and are odds-on to win their group. They also have plenty of goalscoring options with Mario Gotze, Mesut Ozil (both 33/1) and Thomas Muller (40/1) all potential Golden Ball winners.