Runner-up in 2002, bronze-medalists in both 2006 and 2010, and then champions of the world in 2014 for the fourth time, Die Mannschaft rarely disappoints. Four years ago, they had a World Cup to forget though, with a first-ever group stage exit. Long-time head coach Joachim Löw remained at the helm then, but three years later, it was time to hand the team over.
With Hansi Flick in charge, they stormed through qualifying with a perfect record, only losing to North Macedonia while Löw was still in charge. Nations League was a more suitable challenge however and despite just one loss, they finished third behind Italy and Hungary, but ahead of England.
How do they play?
Germany had 75,2% of the ball in qualifying, the most any team in the world managed. It translated to 3,37 goals per 90 minutes, with just 0,37 conceded. Per 90, they had more than 20 shots, more than 40 touches in the penalty area, and more through passes than anyone else.
More often than not, they had the ball on the ground, with only France finding themselves in fewer aerial duels. Modern Germany can hurt you in multiple ways, with both quick counter-attacking and slick passing their forte. Let them run and they will destroy you, with players like Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane flying the wings.
Why they can win?
What happens when you combine a battle-hardened and highly talented squad with an all-winning coach? After 15 years with Joachim Löw as the face of Germany, this is Hansi Flick’s turn. With Bayern Munich, he lost just seven matches, while winning seven trophies in total and becoming just the second manager ever to guide his team to a sextuple. How much better can it get?
Why they can lose?
Good strikers can paper over cracks and that’s what Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, and others did for years. Even after forgettable club seasons, they always stepped up to the plate when Germany needed it most. These guys are gone now and with Timo Werner out with an injury, there’s suddenly a void that needs to be filled. But is there anyone capable of stepping up?
The leading stars
Germany can still count on Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller, two stalwarts of a bygone era. Real Madrid heartbeat Toni Kroos won’t be there though, as the 32-year-old maestro retired after the Euros. This means that it’s now up to Joshua Kimmich to pull the strings and be the midfield puppeteer whose actions define how well-oiled the machine runs.
The fresh faces
It certainly raised eyebrows when Löw left Leroy Sane home four years ago, so the 26-year-old Bayern winger is now going to his first World Cup. His team-mate Jamal Musiala will most certainly be included at just 19, while Werner’s absence might open the door for Chelsea’s versatile attacker Kai Havertz to shine.