Germany Preview – Efficient Enough For Final Spot?
World Cup 2014
Can this star-studded Germany squad go a step further in Brazil than recent championships?
Germany appear to be searching for more of a balance between defensive stability and the free-flowing attack which has become their trademark under Joachim Low, earning clean sheets in each of their first three warm-up outings. That resilience in those games came at the expense of their potency though, as they scored only twice in those three games although they lost none of those and claimed notable victories over England and Chile over that run.
The Germans returned to their attacking best against Armenia (6-1) and Cameroon (2-2) in their final two friendlies although their concession of two goals against the Africans exposed their slightly suspect defence once again.
Germany sailed through a qualification group, scoring a whooping 36 goals in ten games and dropping only two points en route.
Those dropped points came against the Swedes in a remarkable 4-4 draw game in which they led 4-0 with an hour gone.
With only two recognised strikers selected, it’s clear Low will be reliant on the cluster of attacking midfielders at his disposal and any three from Gotze, Muller, Ozil, Schurrle and Kroos would offer any opposing defence plenty to think about.
Lars Bender had to withdraw with a thigh injury while Marco Reus is also absent after he suffered an ankle injury in their final warm-up hammering of Armenia and the Borussia Dortmund starlet will be a real loss for the tournament as a whole.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria).
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal).
In arguably the most competitive group in the tournament, all of Germany’s fixtures represent a potential stumbling block.
Their opener against Portugal is clearly the most glamorous and Low’s side will need to hit the ground running, but Ghana are nobody’s pushover and the United States were the last team to beat them in a 4-3 thriller almost exactly a year ago.
16 June, Germany v Portugal, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 17:00
21 June 2014, Germany v Ghana, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00
26 June 2014, United States v Germany, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 17:00
In such a difficult group, the Germans don’t look great value, certainly as a single bet, at 8/15 to top their group although their passage to the knockout stages looks assured. There remains questions surrounding a defence that conceded seven goals against Sweden in two qualifiers although this is a nation who have finished second, third and third in the last two World Cups.
In a team which could see some rotation in attacking positions an outside bet on their top scorer could be worthwhile and Gotze has been in fine form in the build-up so take the Bayern flier here at an eye-catching 5/1.