“It’s our mission to win the World Cup,” Mesut Ozil said recently. Germany has one of the strongest squads in this tournament and if wasn’t for their injury problems, they would be firm favorites to win it.
Transition to total football
Since 2006, Germany is not only regarded as one of the best teams around, but also as one of the most attractive in their playing style. They started by playing attacking football in 2006 and 2008, then in went more reactive football which was connected with a change in generation (in went the likes of Ozil, Thomas Muller or Toni Kroos).
In 2010, Germany used brilliant counter attacks to eliminate England and Argentina in the knockout stages. But in the semi-final they met Spain, who drained Die Mannschaft’s energy by passing around them constantly. After La Furia Roja went ahead thanks to Carles Puyol’s header, Germany could not find the will nor the energy to equalise.
This gave Joachim Loew an idea about more expansive football. During the Euro 2012 Germany pressed more and generally played more possession based game. Losing to Italy in the semis encouraged Loew to make his team even more progressive. “I’m not prepared to play counter-attacking football or to set up the team with a defensive strategy,” Loew said.
Attacking midfielders everywhere
He flirted with using Mario Goetze as a false nine – same role the youngster played for Bayern Munich this season. Germany has a plethora of attacking midfielders and each one of them is of a different kind. Mesut Ozil is a king of key passes, spreading the ball intelligently in opponent’s half. Then, Loew has Marco Reus, who has an equal eye for pass and a shot and a brain to choose the wisest decision in space of seconds. Thomas Muller, dubbed ‘space translator’ is a player who is always in the right time and space in the box. Toni Kroos is more of a playmaker but can also shoot from distance. Schurrle works harder than anybody else and Gotze dribbles like there were no opponents.
There are two main problems with Germany’s squad – striker and left back. As mentioned earlier, Goetze might start as a false nine, but Loew might be tempted to put Miroslav Klose in the starting lineup. Lazio’s striker had long periods of injury breaks this season and his match fitness is in doubt. Mario Gomez wasn’t even called up and Lukas Podolski is not a natural striker.
Problems with defence
Left back position has always been a problem. Philipp Lahm often played there but he feels more comfortable on the right hand side or, more recently, as a central midfielder. With Marcel Schmelzer injuries throughout the season, Erik Durm of Borussia Dortmund emerged as a solid left back, but the former is more likely to start games.
With Lahm playing in midfield, Loew used this idea during the qualifiers but in the World Cup he is likely to use his most efficient midfield duo – Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira. Real Madrid’s player has just returned from an injury, but he has several weeks to build up his fitness and confidence ahead of the World Cup.
Almost every team in this tournament envies Germany’s depth and power but there are couple of ones that can play better defensively. Loew’s side had problems leaking goals during the qualifiers and should first and foremost upgrade their defensive performance. Thankfully, they know it. “Before every tournament, the defence is being criticised, but we work hard in training and then we always improve,” Per Mertesacker told ESPN last year.
Germany uses a popular 4-2-3-1 formation and recently plays with lots of pressing and high defensive line. With such technical players in every formation, as well as the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (whose appearance is in doubt after shoulder injury), Germany will look to dominate the opponent with possession based game.
Joachim Loew is a veteran of major international tournaments, having been involved in all of them since 2006. Before being appointed as Germany’s coach he guided VfB Stuttgart to Cup Winners Cup final in 1998.
Schedule and BETEGY predictions
16th June, Salvador: vs. Portugal (2-1)
21st June, Fortaleza: vs. Ghana (1-0)
26th June, Recife: vs. USA (2-0)
Three wins and nine points – that’s Germany in the group stage. They have a 81% chance of winning the World Cup. They will then play Russia in the Round of 16 (3-1), France in the quarterfinal (2-1) and Brazil in semifinal (2-1). In final they should meet Argentina and win 3-1. If they lift the trophy, they’ll be the first European team to do it on South American soil.