July 21, 2017

5 Germans Who Stamped a Return Visit to Russia in 2018

Let’s start this by saying something very simple and very obvious. It is a very exciting time to be a fan of the German National team.

Here in America, we are incredibly excited by the play and future prospects of 18-year-old Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic and we should be. The Pennsylvania youngster will likely be the most important player for the USMNT as they  attempt to qualify and hopefully head to Russia in 2018.

It may be a reality check for Yanks like myself to see what is happening with Germany. A U-21 European Championship and a Confederation Cup win, with two rosters that can easily be argued were reserve teams, confirm something Americans must realize.

At this point, we have one Christian Pulisic, Germany may have as many as 30 players that have his talent and upside potential in their national team system.  Oh, by the way, they also have some pretty good players who spent last month on vacation.

These two young teams have put the rest of the world and those German stars getting a few weeks off on notice. The future of German football is not coming, it is already here.

These youngsters also need a reality check though, in the midst of their triumphs. They still need to try to break into a team that are the defending World Cup Champions and may, even without the players on display this past month, be the deepest national team in the world if they want to be in Russia in 2018.

Joachim Löw said going into the Confederation Cup that he was looking for just a handful of players to fill out his roster for the Russian World Cup and there definitely were a few who made an impression.

There is an entire season to play and a number of international breaks before he will make his decisions, but at this moment it would be tough to keep these players off the plane in 2018.

Lars Stindl

How do you impress the coach in your first call up for the national team? Being the joint top scorer in the Confederations Cup and scoring the winner in the tournament final is a good start.

Not an attention grabbing name, Stindl was solid in every aspect of his game during this international session. He quickly stamped his spot on the team by finishing the chances he was presented with and working hard at the top of the formation.

Germany have been looking for a reliable striker since the retirement of Miroslav Klose and they may have found someone that can fill the void in Stindl.

Timo Werner

Can you really say enough about the year that this kid has had? After being left off of the Germany Olympic team so that he could acclimate to his new club, he has been electrifying in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig and now for his country.

Some wise writer may have compared him to the aforementioned Klose around a year ago and I may now break my arm patting myself on the back, because that is who he was in the Confederations Cup.

Timo Werner does his best to take up as little space as possible in this photo from Germany’s 3-1 win over Cameroon in group play.

Matching Stindl’s three goals, Werner used his athleticism and relentless motor to be a constant threat to opposing defenders. At any given moment he could find his way behind the defense and bearing down on goal — including this memorable header against Cameroon.

He could have finished a number more chances than he did, but remember that not only is 21 the number of goals he scored for Leipzig this season; it is also his age. He is still improving and paired well with Stindl up top. Perhaps we have seen an emergence of not just one but two strikers for Löw’s team.

Leon Goretzka

The third player to net three goals in the Confederations Cup, Goretzka all but knocked Mexico out of the tournament by himself in just eight minutes of semifinal play.

The 2016 Olympics were supposed to be his coming out party, but a shoulder injury only delayed the inevitable for the Schalke midfielder.

While inconsistent this past campaign for the Royal Blues, Goretzka was a constant source of brilliance for Die Mannschaft this past month. He showed a goalscoring touch previously unseen and bossed the midfield in a way that will definitely have the Gelsenkirchen faithful excited about the upcoming season.

Joshua Kimmich

The meteoric rise of Werner is perhaps only matched by Kimmich over the past two years. Hard to believe the two were teammates at VfB Stuttgart isn’t it?

Plucked from the Baden Wurttemberg side by Pep Guardiola, he has since made a name for himself at Bayern and in Jogi Löw’s team. Swiss Army knives could take a lesson from Kimmich’s versatility. He has been excellent at both right back and in central midfield and has shown a propensity for scoring goals, even from those deep lying positions for club and country.

A bicycle kick equalizer against Denmark pre-tournament won’t hurt his confidence going back to Bavaria either.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

There is still this guy in Bavaria named Manuel Neuer who, barring unforeseen circumstances, will be looming between the sticks for Germany next summer in Russia. However, the fight for his backup spot may have been locked up by MATS this past month.

Leverkusen’s Berndt Leno showed the inconsistency that plagued his last season in the Bundesliga and at a position that is, to borrow a bit of German, über deep; Ter Stegen walked through the door Leno left open and didn’t look back.

His goalkeeping and distribution abilities make him an ideal fit for the style Germany and his club team, Barcelona, look to play.

These Guys Have Work To Do

It must be said, that Julian Draxler and Jonas Hector both will likely be fixtures in Germany’s World Cup side. They were two of the few with significant national team experience on display this past month and both performed admirably. Draxler, of course, was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball and was the team captain.

Up top, Sandro Wagner underwhelmed and may have squandered his one chance at representing his country in the future. Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt showed flashes of brilliance. As did Serge Gnabry, Davie Selke, Maxi Meyer and Maxi Arnold for the U-21’s. All will need very strong Bundesliga campaigns moving forward to impress Löw and company.

The German’s are also ridiculously deep at center back. The likes of Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes all will make cases to continue to feature for Jogi Löw. However, youngsters Matthias Ginter and Niklas Süle were very impressive and could push the established players ahead of them. They also may have moved ahead of the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Antonio Rüdiger, both of whom had wobbles during the Confederations Cup, on the depth chart.

One of the most interesting things to watch this Bundesliga season may be to see how Süle and fellow former Hoffenheimer Sebastian Rudy integrate into their new home at Bayern Munich. That transition could very well decide the World Cup fate for each player.

A year out from the World Cup, nothing is a certainty. The exception is the fact that Bundestrainer Joachim Löw will have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal as he chooses the 23-man roster that will attempt to defend Germany’s title as World Champions.

No nation has successfully defended a World Cup since Brazil in 1962. Can the Germans duplicate this summer’s success and accomplish that feat in 2018? Right now, it certainly looks good.

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A tight knit family from the small Bavarian village of Kirchzell sparked an interest in the Bundesliga and German culture, even though Chris was born half a world away in New Jersey. A video producer and editor by profession, I talk soccer all day and decided to write it down. @ChrisBrase22

2 Comments

  1. Stindl – I do not think he really will be in for Russia 2018. It is another system if you play with 65% than 35% possession and as he is no winger and not really a full striker – and the 10 will be used with Özil or a midfielder – I do not really see him in the final squad.

    Löw wanted Reus to play in the ConfedCup – probably wanted to give him the team captain role – but Reus declined because he wanted to have a full preparation. He got injured afterwards. Reus just had a hand full of matches (and not so many good ones) in the last four years. He excels more in a counter setup than in a ball possession system. I am sure Löw did not really like that he declined and there is a lot rivals that you can wake up night and day to play for Germany – even in the Confetti Cup…

    Khedira is one of the team captains – he probably is the ones of them who is closest to Löw. If Khedira is not injured Goretzka will not be a challenger for the starting formation – but for sure will make the squad.

  2. Kimmich and Hector are sure starters at this point. The forward’s spot seems also Werner’s to lose.

    Goretzka might just challenge Khedira for the #8 spot. Draxler will be in the discussion, but Germany is also very deep in his position. If everyone is healthy, Ozil, Muller and HOPEFULLY Reus will probably be starters and there is Leroy Sane to contend with too.

    Howedes might not make it if the CBs keep developing. Sule and Rudiger have probably the highest chance depending on their growth. Stark and Kempf were also very impressive. And Tah was also injured.

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