It was after Germany put 7 past the hosts in the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup 2014 that they were regarded as favourites in every competition they played thereafter. That team had it all – Pace, poise, precision. However, with the retirements of crucial first team players in Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose and then Lukas Podolski further down the line, there was a slight apprehension about who could fill the boots of these outgoing German icons.
However, as Germany have shown in the past, they are extremely quick to identify problems and take immediate measures to rectify them. Coach Joachim Loew tried several different combinations, and one which worked was Joshua Kimmich at RB and Mario Gomez up top, which was employed in the Euros 2016.
Germany generally stick to their tried and tested 4-2-3-1, but in the Confederations Cup that just passed by, they were more than willing to test out a 3 man back line. Joachim Loew selected his tournament roster with a very clear purpose in mind – Experimentation. He left nearly every single senior player out, and got in youngsters, to make up the German B team. Even in this B team, he experimented with nearly every position, with the full / wing back spots the only areas left undisturbed, tweaking his system and approach play ever so slightly in every game, and encouraging his players to play the German way, no matter how many times they gave away possession cheaply.
From this tournament, he has gained at least 2 very realistic first teamers for the World Cup next year in Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner. Everyone knows of Germany’s lack of options up front, and Werner, with pace to burn and excellent finishing ability should be able to cement his spot as the lone striker over the remainder of this year. Goretzka finished joint top scorer from central midfield, not an easy feat by any standard. He showed his deft positional awareness and ability to make runs from deep, something which would have impressed his gaffer a lot.
The Germany side that conquered the world 3 years ago will not be seeing any major roster changes as they defend their crown next year. Of course, a few stars from the Confederations Cup will likely see their performances rewarded with starting berths. The very young and relatively inexperienced side that defeated a full strength Chile in the final will also have developed leaps and bounds by the time the next Euros and World Cup ’22 come around, and I have no doubt that they will carry the baton with the same vigour and class that their predecessors did. Add to that the German side that just conquered Europe’s U-21. To top it all off, guiding them is one of the best readers of the game in Joachim Loew. A man who has admittedly made headlines for the wrong reasons, but is still criminally underrated in terms of his formation flexibility, ability to read the game and adjust his tactics accordingly. He has a phenomenal record as Germany’s manager, one which he will be keen on improving, as his nation builds an empire in the football world. With this, you have all necessary firepower and tactical ability to be able to stamp your authority on the game for the better part of a decade, if not more.
People talk a great deal about France’s extremely young squad and squad depth, and on paper, it is arguably greater than its German counterpart. However, Didier Deschamps is still working on determining his ideal mix of players, and the exact style that he wants to implement. That being said, I daresay that the German squad offers a lot more balance, and a lot more poise and calmness under pressure situations. Another thing to add here is that this German squad seems to be ready to serve one another for the greater good of the team, i.e. the team performs as a unit, rather than the sum of its individual components, a domain which France are yet to master.
There is little doubt that Germany probably won’t have the best squad in the world a few years down the line, but there is absolutely no uncertainty that they have, and will continue to have the best team in world football. And as a team, there is no one better equipped to dominate.
[Image credits to Bleacher Report Football]