As one of the hot favorites to win the World Cup this summer, a lot of eyes have been fixed on Germany’s preparations and Joachim Low’s squad. The Germans have an unbelievable amount of talent at their disposal, and with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Özil in the side, there is no lack of big names - although Ilkay Gundogan is out of the tournament due to injury.
Their star men are all experienced in European football, with the majority of their first eleven playing for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Yes, Per Mertesacker, Sami Khedira and Özil may be the exceptions to the rule, but playing for Arsenal and Real Madrid isn’t really much different in terms of quality. If anything, it could be said that the Premier League and La Liga are harder divisions than the Bundesliga.
Yet it is the choice of striker that has proved the most controversial talking point. Despite a lack of fitness, and therefore form, Mario Gomez has the quality required to be a force in the World Cup, with his menacing presence and aerial prowess. However, Low insisted that he would only choose fully fit players. So it should come as no surprise that Gomez has been left out of the 30-man preliminary squad.
Perhaps more surprising is that Max Kruse, the talented Borussia Mönchengladbach forward, has also missed out. Instead, Low has opted for Hoffenheim’s Kevin Volland as an understudy to Miroslav Klose.
With a dearth of attacking talent in midfield - Thomas Muller, Marco Reus and Andre Schürlle are all capable of chipping in with a goal or two - it is understandable that Low has only named two strikers. Should he decide that Klose is the man to lead the line, it will be hoped that the poacher can break more records and become the highest ever World Cup goalscorer. His knack of being in the right place at the right time could see him score yet more vital goals and he is just one behind Ronaldo - the Brazilian striker that set the world alight in his glory days.
It would be a positive moment in what could be a brilliant tournament for the Germans. No European side has ever won a World Cup in South America, but Germany - alongside Spain - have a great chance to end that run.
Their solid squad features the likes of Phillipp Lahm, Mats Hummels and Lars Bender - a man that probably won’t even make the starting line up. Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Julian Draxler aren’t certainties either despite their sublime talents. It just proves that the Germans are well equipped for this summer’s tournament.
Finalists in Euro 2008, third in the last World Cup and Semi Finalists in Euro 2012, they have come incredibly close to success in each tournament Low has led them in. In fact, Spain began their era of international dominance against Germany in the Euro 2008 final, before Spain again beat Low’s Germany in the Semi Final of the 2010 World Cup. And only an impressive Italian side managed to edge them out in Euro 2012. The hopes in Germany are that it will be fourth time lucky for Low.
The only reasons that Germany cannot win the tournament are similar to the majority of European sides. Their fitness will be tested in the challenging Brazilian climate, and a lack of concentration could cost them as it did in Euro 2012. But they are as good a bet as any this summer, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go on yet another brilliant run.