Russia 2018 was the end of the road for Germany in many ways. The group stage exit, with defeats to Mexico and South Korea, began the end of Joachin Low’s long and successful tenure as the manager. Though he was at the helm for Euro 2020, the Round of 16 defeat to England proved to be the final blow for him.
Soon, his former assistant Hansi Flick took over after leading Bayern Munich to Champions League glory. Though it hasn’t set the world alight, Germany, under Flick has improved steadily. It has lost just once in 15 games after Flick took over, with a thumping 5-2 win over European champion Italy in the Nations League being the highlight of his tenure.
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Germany is slotted in Group E and will begin its campaign against Japan on November 23, followed by games against Spain and Costa Rica. With a star-studded squad ready for the Qatar World Cup, Flick and his men will be looking to reclaim the glories of the 2014 World Cup.
BALANCE - The 2014 World Cup winner arrives in Qatar with a squad that has a potent mix of experience and youthful vigour. Manager Hansi Flick’s decision to bring in 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko and 19-year-old Jamal Musiala, alongside the seasoned hands of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan, could provide Die Mannschaft with the right balance for the World Cup.
WING IT - In Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, Germany has two pacy wingers with a knack for scoring goals. With their Bayern Munich teammate, Muller expected to pull the strings from his trademark Ramdeuter role, Gnabry and Sane could have a stirring tournament.
AGELESS NEUER - Eight years ago, when Germany dismantled various teams on its way to its fourth world title, the star of Low’s side was its goalkeeper Neuer. In Brazil, the Bayern Munich shot-stopper redefined goalkeeping with his daring forays outside the box as a sweeper keeper.
Though age and injuries have slowed him down, Neuer has been one of the best in the business, as evidenced by his performance in Bayern’s Champions League winning run in 2020. Flick will be counting on Neuer to provide leadership and a sense of security at the back.
UNCERTAIN DEFENCE - Germany has always been renowned for its machine-like efficiency and stability, with its defence providing the base. But this time out, the German defence doesn’t offer a sense of security.
Real Madrid’s colossal centre-back Antonio Rudiger is the only one with an assured spot in the defensive line. With Dortmund’s Mats Hummels out of the picture, his clubmate Nikolas Sule is in contention to partner Rudiger at the heart of the defence.
Flick has often experimented with Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Jonas Hoffman as an attacking wing-back, successfully, meaning he might slot in at right back. Leipzig’s David Raum looks likely to start at left-back.
KLOSE GAP - Ever since Miroslav Klose retired, Germany has struggled to find a traditional number 9, upon whom it can converge its attacks. Going into Qatar 2022, Flick has at his disposal a variety of attackers, but no out-and-out striker.
Kai Havertz will likely get the nod as the central attacker, but the Chelsea man might lack the output required for a German striker. This would mean an opportunity for either Moukoko to have a go in his first-ever World Cup.
Among players selected for the Qatar World Cup, no one has scored as many World Cup goals as Thomas Muller’s 10. This is despite the Bayern man not scoring a goal in Russia in 2018, which almost resulted in his international career ending.
Muller, though, found a second wind in his career in a creative role and has consistently topped the European assists charts. With Germany devoid of a central figure upfront, Muller could be its main man.
With the all-time goal-scorers spot in the sights of the 33-year-old, each goal he scores will move him up ahead of some legends of the game.