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FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 : All Eyes Will Be On Defending Champions Germany

Picture Courtesy : FootTheBall
Picture Courtesy : FootTheBall

German fans are always the happiest as their national football team has reached at least the semi-finals of every major tournament since Joachim Loew took over as coach in 2006.

This can surely boost the confidence of the Germans who are aiming to be the first World Cup champions in 56 years to successfully defend the title, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We can accomplish something historic — World Cup champions, Confederations Cup winners and then World Cup champions again — which has never happened,” Loew said recently at the team’s training camp in Italy, according to DPA.

The message is clear that the world’s top ranked team are ready for the tournament which kicks off in 10 days.

“The goal for us all must be to win the title,” Loew said.

Brazil, who lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in 1958 and 1962, were the last team to retain their title. But in half a century, with the progress and popularity of the sport expanding around the globe, the gaps between the giant teams are narrowing, which makes the feat more and more difficult to achieve.

Loew has clear plans in Russia for title defence.

“We as a team need another improvement if we want to be successful. We have to play even better than we did at the 2014 World Cup,” the 58-year-old head coach said.

Loew stressed the importance of two other important factors — the necessary changes in the team and the hunger to repeat their Brazil 2014 triumph.

After the 2006 World Cup, Loew guided his side to a steady and glorious decade with at least the last-four finish in each major tournament. The success is based on the young generations’ growth and the constant upgrading of the tactical strategy.

When Germany finished as runners-up at Euro 2008, Loew humbly learned the lessons from the final defeat to Spain and researched into the “possession football” style of their opponents.

From that time on, Germany developed the speed, power and physical advantage, but also improved to a new level with more skillful passing and a high defensive line to maintain the momentum in their matches.

At Euro 2016, Loew again made the tactical changes and tried the new strategy after Italy knocked Spain out of the group stage. He made sure Germany could complete transition between the 3-4-3 and 5-3-2 formations in defence and attack, which helped them to finally beat Italy for the first time in a major tournament.

Therefore in Russia, Germany can have many strategy adjustments while facing different opponents. With the improvement of the individual skills, the defending champions pay more attention to the efficiency of their attack based on their style.

Germany emphasise collective efforts ahead of individuals. There is no superstar in the team but the average power is daunting, which is capable of delivering results.

Based on the successful youth training system in the country, Germany have more young talents to rely on for the necessary tactical change when needed.

Let’s not forget that at the 2017 Confederations Cup, Loew made his brave decision to take an inexperienced squad to Russia and rest his star players, but still won the dress rehearsal for the World Cup by beating Chile 1-0 at the final in St Petersburg.

That successful result helped him decide to take more than 10 players, who lifted the Confederations Cup, to this summer’s World Cup.

Among the young talents, the fullback Joshua Kimmich, dubbed the “new Philipp Lahm”, is the only player who has played every minute of Germany’s ten World Cup qualifiers. RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner has also been beckoned to be a leading player of his generation.

The backbone of the world champions is still there as Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos will use their experience and chemistry to carry on the team in Russia.

Meanwhile, , Germany head coach Joachim Loew announced his final 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, including Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but opting not to use Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.

Neuer is to join the starting lineup in Russia despite having been out for eight months due to a foot injury, while Sane was passed over after having a stellar season with English Premier League (EPL) champions Manchester City, reported Efe.

In addition to Sane, Loew excluded goalkeeper Bernd Leno, forward Nils Petersen and defender Jonathan Tah.

“There are better days in the life of a coach than when he has to send home four players who, in principle, would have deserved to go to the World Cup.

“It was a very tight decision. If it had been a hundred meter race, the decision would have been taken by photo finish,” he said.

Neuer, who played in Saturday’s friendly against Austria following his eight-month absence, expressed his gratitude for all the support he has received while sidelined.

“I want to thank all those who have accompanied me during my injury; the doctors, the physiotherapists, the physical trainers, the people around me and the people in the national team and at Bayern.

“During all that time, I tried to have a positive attitude, otherwise I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have been called up,” he said.

Neuer also recognized that Loew’s decision was not an easy one, betting on him as a starter at the expense of Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had a great season, as well as leaving out Leno as third goalkeeper.

“I hope to show that it was the right decision,” Neuer said.

Defending champion Germany has a friendly on Friday against Saudi Arabia, and their first World Cup match in Group F is to be against Mexico on June 17, followed by Sweden June 23 and South Korea June 27.

The final Germany squad:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).

Defenders: Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mathias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Niklas Sule, Joshua Kimmich (all Bayern Munich) and Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea).

Midfielders and strikers: Sami Khedira (Juventus), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Thomas Muller, Sebastian Rudy (both Bayern Munich ), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) and Mario Gomez (Stuttgart).


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