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FIFA World Cup 2018: Defending champions Germany have all bases covered

Germany, who won the FIFA World Cup in the 2014 edition in Brazil, have a team which now is better and younger and who are high on momentum having won all 10 matches in the qualifying campaign

football Updated: Jun 10, 2018 11:49 IST
Himanshu Dhingra
Himanshu Dhingra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,2018 FIFA World Cup,Germany football team
Germany, the defending champions, are in great form heading into the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.(Getty Images)

Their second string won the FIFA Confederations Cup last year, their 23-man squad is brimming with talent, their coach is one of the most coveted in European football. Oh! And they are the defending FIFA World Cup champions.

That’s Germany for you, a team that dished out a 7-1 mauling to five-time champions Brazil in their own backyard during the 2014 World Cup. Add to that, this team now is better and younger than the team that lifted the trophy in Rio de Janeiro. A scary thought for rivals.

Germany cruised through the qualifying campaign, winning all the 10 matches, scoring 43 goals in the process and conceding just four.

The squad Joachim Loew has at his disposal has all bases covered, from back to front. Manuel Neuer, although coming back from injury, is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world.

You will have to travel a long way to find a more complete midfielder than Toni Kroos. Although he has his critics at club level, Mesut Ozil is the guy who makes it happen for Die Mannschaft. Thomas Muller has won the Golden and Silver Boot at the last two World Cups, scoring 10 goals in 13 matches. At 28, he is at the peak of his abilities. While Germany are expected to win all three of their group matches, the others will not be going down without a fight.

Sweden, a team that gave France a run for their money in Group A of the World Cup qualifying and beat four-time champions Italy in a two-legged playoff tie without conceding a goal, can never be taken lightly. Coach Janne Andersson is likely to stick with the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation which is likely to frustrate opposition. Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig is likely to be the key to how they go along with a mean defence featuring Victor Lindelof of Manchester United.

GROUP F
GERMANY
Qualified 18 times.
Best: Champions
1954, 1974, 1990, 2014
Qualifying route:UEFA Group C winners
JOACHIM LOEW
Head coach
(L-R) Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil
SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp
DEFENDERS: Jerome Boateng, Matthias Ginter, Jonas Hector, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Marvin Plattenhardt, Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Sule
MIDFIELDERS: Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Sebastian Rudy
FORWARDS: Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Nils Petersen, Marco Reus, Timo Werner
MEXICO
Qualified 15 times.
Best: Quarter-finals
1970, 1986
Qualifying route: Topped Group A CONCACAF fourth round – Topped group in CONCACAF fifth round
JUAN CARLOS OSORIO
Head coach
(L-R) Marco Fabian, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez
SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: Guillermo Ochoa,Alfredo Talavera, Jose Corona
DEFENDERS: Carlos Salcedo, Diego Reyes, Hector Moreno, Hugo Ayala, Edson Alvarez, Jesus Gallardo, Miguel Layun
MIDFIELDERS: Rafael Marquez, Hector Herrera, Jonathan dos Santos, Giovani dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Javier Aquino, Jesus Corona
FORWARDS: Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez, Oribe Peralta, Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano, Marco Fabian
SWEDEN
Qualified 11 times.
Best: Runners up
1958
Qualifying route: Finished second in Group A behind France, beat Italy 1-0 on aggregate in a two-legged play-off
JANNE ANDERSSON
Head coach
(L-R) Victor Lindelof, Emil Forsberg, Marcus Berg
SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Robin Olsen
DEFENDERS: Ludwig Augustinsson, Andreas Granqvist , Filip Helander, Pontus Jansson, Emil Krafth, Mikael Lustig, Victor, Martin Olsson
MIDFIELDERS: Viktor Claesson, Jimmy Durmaz, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Oscar Hiljemark, Sebastian Larsson, Marcus Rohden, Gustav Svensson
FORWARDS: Marcus Berg, John Guidertti, Isaac Kiese Thelin, Ola Toivonen
SOUTHKOREA
Qualified 9 times
Best:
4th place
2002
Qualifying route: Finished second in Group A of final round of AFC qualifying tournament
SHIN TAE-YONG
Head coach
(L-R) Hwang Hee-chan, Son Heung-min, Ja-Cheol Koo
SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: Kim Seung-gyu, Kim Jin-hyeon, Cho Hyun-woo
DEFENDERS: Kim young-gwon, Jang Hyun-soo, Jung Seung-hyun, Yun Yong-sun, Oh Ban-suk, Kim Min-woo, Park Joo-ho, Hong Chul, Go Yo-han, Lee Yong
MIDFIELDERS: Ki Sung-yueng, Jung Woo-young, Ju Se-jong, Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Jae-sung, Lee Seung-woo, Moon Seon-min
FORWARDS: Kim Shin-wook, Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan
Photos: AFP/Reuters/GettyImages | Graphics: HITESH MATHUR

Mexico, third team in Group F, have a couple of star names, but bulk of their squad is made up of hard working players. Javier Hernandez is El Tri’s leading scorer and the team will bank on his abilities. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s tactical nous will be a big plus. It is likely to be the tactician’s last tournament and no doubt he would want to go out on a high.

Despite being one of the top guns in Asia, South Korea are the weakest team in Group F. The team will have to rely on collective effort to get past the group stages

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 11:48 IST