Several top players have been left out of Germany’s squad for the World Cup, so many that you can make an XI out of it.
It is hard to pick a favorite for the upcoming FIFA World Cup because of the quality of some of the teams participating in Russia. Nevertheless, one can safely place a bet on Germany making the final four based on recent history because they’ve finished 1st, 3rd, 3rd and 2nd in the previous four editions.
The defending World Champions will have a tough task if they are to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their title.
The good thing for Germany is that many of their key players from the previous World Cup are still part of the squad and this list features the likes of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. Chances are that they will all have a starting role in Russia.
However, when Joachim Low announced the preliminary squad, there was one major omission but one which wasn’t surprising. Mario Gotze, who scored the winning goal in the final four years ago will watch the World Cup from home.
Goalkeeper: Loris Karius
Joachim Low named Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp in his preliminary squad for the World Cup and surely one of them will no be flying to Russia. It could be Manuel Neuer because of his injury or it could be Kevin Trapp who has served as #2 at PSG.
Germany have no shortage of top goalkeepers and there are several other shot-stoppers playing at the highest level like Liverpool’s Loris Karius who are nowhere near the national team setup as things stand.
Karius has been Liverpool’s undisputed starter since the turn of the year and has played every Champions League game bar the qualifiers for this year’s finalists.
The German has won the confidence of his manager and a vast majority of the fans with his performance which has seen him keep eight clean sheets in the 16 league games he has played while conceding just 13 goals!
Funnily though, when Germany won the World Cup in 2014, the understudies to Manuel Neuer were Roman Weidenfeller and Ron-Robert Zieler. They too are not in contention!
Fullbacks: Benjamin Henrichs and Philipp Max
If there is one area of concern for Germany, it is the fullback position. The Germans had to play Benedikt Howedes, a centre-back by trade, as a left-back in Brazil four years ago. The situation has improved this time around with Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector likely to start with Sebastian Rudy and Marvin Plattenhardt acting as backups.
Low had other options to choose from. Bayer Leverkusen’s 21-year-old full-back, Benjamin Henrichs, is considered one for the future and he was part of the German team that won the Confederations Cup last year. Henrichs is capable of playing on either flank but his lack of a regular starting role at Leverkusen may have cost him his place.
Max enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2017/18. He picked up 13 assists in the league for an Augsburg side that finished 12th out of 18 teams and scored just 43 goals all season! This is even more remarkable when you realise that the only player to have more assists than him in the league was Thomas Muller!
At the moment, Max is not in contention for a World Cup place. We’ve watched him a few times. There’s no doubt he’s a good left-sided player, but as of yet he’s not part of our plans.
Central defenders: Shkodran Mustafi and Benedikt Höwedes
The two central defenders featuring in this list are both World Cup winners! This shows that Low emphasizes performance and form.
Mustafi was also part of the Confederations Cup winning squad in 2017 but the Arsenal man had a torrid season. In fact, he was one of the worst defenders in the league this season. The 26-year-old was on his way to Inter Milan at the start of the season with Arsenal happy to let him go initially before making a U-turn and keeping him. Fair to say that both parties didn’t benefit from that.
As for Howedes, the former Schalke captain finally left his boyhood club, albeit on loan, but the injury problems that plagued him for years followed him to Turin. He had five different injuries during the course of the season and featured in only three games for Juventus all season. No surprise that he was left out of the World Cup squad.
Midfielders: Julian Weigl, Emre Can, and Mario Gotze
This is arguably the toughest area of the field to break in for a Germany player hoping to make the squad. Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, and Sami Khedira are sureshot starters for the Germans if the past is anything to go by.
The other central midfielders in the squad, Ilkay Gundogan, and Leon Goretzka have both earned their place in the side after a good season for their respective clubs.
Julian Weigl has been a crucial player for Borussia Dortmund for four years now and is the man who makes the team tick. In fact, Toni Kroos was once asked ‘which current player reminded him of himself’ during a Q & A session on Twitter and the Real Madrid ace replied: “Julian Weigl is going to be a world-class player”.
Despite such praise, Weigl has only been capped five times by Germany.
Emre Can, on the other hand, was in and around the national team picture for a while now and was part of the team that played in Euro 2016 and also the one that won the Confederations Cup. The Liverpool man was enjoying a terrific season before an injury kept him out of the latter stages of the season. As things stand, Can hasn’t recovered fully and that might be the reason, Low has not included him in the World Cup squad.
Finally, Mario Gotze! If you’ve followed Gotze’s career in recent years, it would not surprise you that he isn’t part of the World Cup squad as a combination of injuries and form has tormented Germany’s Golden Boy. It would be unfair to say that Germany would miss him given the quality at their disposal but as humans with emotions, it is sad not to see the scorer of the winning goal in 2014.
Forwards: Andre Schurrle, Sandro Wagner and Serge Gnabry
Mario Gotze’s World Cup-clinching goal was assisted by his club teammate, Andre Schurrle and while both of them celebrated the World Cup triumph, Marco Reus was at home. This time, Reus has been named in the squad and Schurrle, like Gotze, has been left out.
Sandro Wagner, on the other hand, had a good chance of going to Russia after impressing for Hoffenheim. He moved to Bayern in January to act as an understudy to Robert Lewandowski and still scored 9 times in 17 games!
However, Low has gone with Timo Werner, Mario Gomez and the uncapped Nils Petersen on the back of an excellent domestic season.
Completing the XI is former Arsenal man, Serge Gnabry. Although he had a tough time during his stint in the Premier League, Gnabry has seen his stock rise after moving to Germany in 2016. In fact, his excellent season for Werder Bremen earned him a move to Bayern in 2017 but he was immediately loaned out to Hoffenheim.
His stint with Hoffenheim was also successful as he racked up 10 goals in 22 league games but he picked up an injury late in the season which eradicated any chance he had of going to Russia.