2018 FIFA World Cup contenders – Germany

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Germany are the reigning world champions and one of the strongest sides in world football at the moment. They have been a traditional powerhouse of the game as is attested by their four World Cup triumphs of 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014. Germany are also one of those teams that find their best at the biggest stage of them all – their run to the final of the 2002 World Cup despite not having an exceptionally strong squad is a testament to that. They will be amongst the favourites retain their world title in three years time, but the fact Brazil remain the last side to successfully retain football’s most prestigious trophy – and that too way back in 1962 – implies that the task at the hands of the Germans will not be an easy one.

The European giants were on the periphery of a major success prior to their triumphant run in Brazil last summer. They had finished third in the World Cup they hosted in 2006. Four years later, they win beaten by a solitary goal from Carles Puyol in the semi-final in South Africa. It was clear that they had exceptionally gifted players in their ranks and only needed to pull together and with some luck they would eventually take home the prestigious trophy. It all came together for them in Brazil.

In 2018, they will attempt to defend the trophy and not many would put the task behind them. They have a very strong squad and have some of the most talented youngsters in the game coming through the ranks.

Philipp Lahm, who captained the Germans during last year’s triumph, has since retired from international duty, handing the captaincy to Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The midfielder will be pushing 34 when the event in Russia comes along, but is likely to be around and play his last World Cup.

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Manuel Neuer will be their first choice goalkeeper in Russia, unless something drastic happens. In front of him there is a talented array of defenders in World Cup winners Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Shkodran Mustafi and Jerome Boateng as well some gifted youngsters in Jonas Hector, Antonio Rudiger, Matthias Ginter, Jonathan Tah and Eric Durm.

Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Christoph Kramer, Julian Draxler and Mario Gotze will all be there in Russia and the Germans will have the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus – who both missed out on Brazil due to injuries, will also be there in three years time. To add to their resources, they have the likes of Schalke trio of Leroy Sane, Max Meyer and Leon Groetzka amongst others to call upon.

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Thomas Muller will likely be the leader of the German attack in Russia and he will be ably supported by youngsters like Max Kruse and Timo Werner.

Germany have a wealth of resources in their ranks to successfully defend their title and it remains to be seen if Joachim Low remains at the helm of the side beyond next summer’s European Championship in France or makes room for someone else to take over.

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No matter who leads the side from the touchline, Germany will greatly fancy their chances of retaining the World Cup.

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