There hasn’t been a repeat winner of the World Cup in more than half a century. But who is going to tell the reigning champs they can’t do it? The German system is the envy of the football world, a conveyor belt of talent that has laid to rest perceptions of die mannscha as stylistically dour.
The dilemma facing sage coach Joachim Low: stick with the heroes of 2014, or turn to the young stars who have emerged since? It might be hard to deny the likes of forward Timo Werner, defender Joshua Kimmich and midfielder Leon Goretzka (pictured together), even when you have Ozil, Muller, Kroos, Khedira and Hummmels still gracing the squad. Another of the household names, all-world goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, is baling back from injury. But if he’s not good to go, that just means Barcelona’s Marc Andre ter Stegen slots into his place – and that kind of depth explains Germany in a nutshell.
If you put any stock in video games, a simulation run through the EA Sports FIFA game has Germany returning to the final, although losing to France on penalties.