GER­MANY

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at­tack.

Loew has taken Ger­many to the fi­nal of the 2008 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, a third-place fin­ish at the 2010 World Cup, then the semi­fi­nals at Euro 2012 be­fore the 2014 World Cup ti­tle in Brazil.

Ger­many fol­lowed with a dis­ap­point­ing semi­fi­nal exit to France at Euro 2016, but Loew laid the ground­work for a suc­cess­ful World Cup ti­tle de­fense by win­ning the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup last year in Rus­sia with a young team of promis­ing tal­ent.

Loew hasn’t been afraid to test the younger play­ers and Ger­many’s depth made for one his hard­est tasks — which play­ers to leave off the fi­nal 23-man squad.

Leroy Sane, the Pre­mier League’s young player of the year, was cut. Mario Goetze, who scored the tour­na­ment-win­ning goal in 2014, wasn’t even called up for the pre­lim­i­nary squad.

Loew also has the un­for­tu­nate ten­dency to be­come an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion

among fans be­cause the 58-year-old coach has been caught on cam­era pick­ing his nose and in other com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tions dur­ing games.

GOAL­KEEP­ERS

Cap­tain Manuel Neuer has proved his fit­ness just in time. The Bay­ern Mu­nich goal­keeper missed most of the sea­son with a sec­ond hair­line frac­ture in his left foot, but he played the full game Satur­day against Aus­tria.

“I feel very good,” said Neuer, who isn’t wor­ried about in­jur­ing his foot a third time. “The risk is ex­actly the same as with any other player.”

Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen is the re­serve goal­keeper de­spite an ex­cel­lent sea­son with Barcelona.

Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Ger­main got the nod over Bernd Leno of Bayer Lev­erkusen as Ger­many’s third-choice keeper.

DE­FEND­ERS

Bay­ern de­fender Jerome Boateng ap­pears to have re­cov­ered from a thigh in­jury suf­fered April in the Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nals against Real Madrid. Bay­ern team­mate Nik­las Suele

can also step in to part­ner Mats Hum­mels in the cen­ter. Joshua Kim­mich, an­other Bay­ern player, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm’s re­tire­ment at right back. The mod­est Jonas Hec­tor will likely keep his place on the left de­spite Cologne’s rel­e­ga­tion.

MID­FIELD­ERS

Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew’s team sheet. The Real Madrid mid­fielder is the driv­ing force be­hind the side. He will likely be part­nered by Ju­ven­tus’ Sami Khedira, who pro­vides more of a de­fen­sive pres­ence, with Me­sut Ozil in front, flanked on ei­ther side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus.

Ger­many has a wealth of op­tions in mid­field, with Ilkay Gun­do­gan, Leon Goret­zka, Ju­lian Draxler and Ju­lian Brandt all pro­vid­ing am­ple backup op­tions.

FOR­WARDS

Timo Werner seems as­sured of his start­ing place af­ter an­other good sea­son for Leipzig, al­beit with most of his goals in the first half of the cam­paign. The 22-year-old Werner for­ward has seven goals in 12 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances, but it’s his runs into space and the prob­lems he causes de­fend­ers that ben­e­fit the team.

Loew also has Mario Gomez as a more ex­pe­ri­enced op­tion. The 32-yearold Stuttgart striker has played in big tour­na­ments be­fore — at the World Cup in 2010 and three Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships — and will hope to add to his 31 goals. Loew also has the op­tion of play­ing Mueller or Reus up front.

GROUP GAMES

Ger­many kicks off its ti­tle de­fense near its tour­na­ment base in Moscow at the Luzh­niki Sta­dium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its sec­ond game against Swe­den on June 23, be­fore wrap­ping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later.

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