Weighing Germany's Chances of a Back-to-Back World Cup Championship
We all know how the 2014 World Cup went. It was a chaotic run for the hopeful Brazilians as they were annihilated by the underdog Germans in the semi-finals 1-7. It was one of the biggest upsets of the sport, and proof of how strong the German squad was.
Muller, Klose, Kroos, Khedira, and Schurrle all had their fair share of goals throughout the matchup. Together they dismantled Luiz Felipe Scolari’s hopes of once again dominating the sport.
However, that was the past, and we’re now here vying for the 2018 World Cup that will kick off in Kiev, Russia this June 14.
With this, football fans from around the world are in a debate as to which team will reign supreme this time around.
Is it going to be a repeat for Germany? Or will Brazil exact vengeance on their demolished campaign last time? Or perhaps Argentina’s Messi-led squad or some other surprising team will do?
We don’t have any clue as to which team will dominate this World Cup because as what they say, the sport of football is like a ball — anything can happen. However, Swiss financial firm UBS has a way to go around this uncertainty.
According to reports, UBS has used its econometric tools to forecast the likely outcome of the tournament. The tool has been commonly used as a means to identify investment opportunities for the company.
But this time, it’s used for another purpose, and that is to predict the tournament’s results.
Based on the findings of the simulations, UBS said that Germany has the highest chances of winning the World Cup. This makes perfect sense knowing that they’re the defending champions. The reports add that they have a 24% chance to repeat the championship run.
Also in the list of likely winners are Brazil and Spain who have a 19.8% and 16.1% chances of winning, respectively. This prediction stands on firm ground as superstars Neymar and Philippe Coutinho are expected to bring Selecao to triumph.
Those three clubs are the only ones who are the likeliest to dominate the World Cup.
As for the other teams? Well, the future looks a bit bleak for them. England gets
the next highest odds with their 8.5% — which doesn’t look promising at all.
Meanwhile, the host nation Russia sits at a very humble 1.6% chance, which is by all means, impossible to win. Take note that this is even though the Russian squad will start in the competition's weakest group.
Among the weakest links in the contest, according to UBS, are Morocco with their 0.1% chance, and Tunisia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia with 0% chance.
UBS Chief Investment Officer answered to the criticisms bashed on the company’s findings. According to him, it doesn’t matter where their analysis tools are used, because even if it’s going to focus on global markets or football tournaments, the methodology implemented and findings predicted are still on-point and accurate.
He also added that the process had been used multiple times on different occasions, and much to their expectations, have yielded accurate results.
So, what’s up with Germany? Well, they’re in not-so-good-shape, to say the least. The defending champions are en route to becoming the first team since 1962 to defend the championship title. Unfortunately, things don't bode well especially if one was to look at their friendlies performance.
There’s a lot to be worried about this, but Coach Joachim Low doesn’t seem to mind. In an interview, the 58-year-old manager said that there’s nothing surprising about the results of their previous performances.
Low added that these are part of the practice process, and it’s through these errors where they’re able to turn their weaknesses into strengths. The German coach continued arguing that he even let an inexperienced lineup play for the 2017 Confederations Cup, and they still emerged champions.
He also cited Mario Gotze’s absence in the German final squad as a sign of his confidence that his chosen players will bring them another trophy this year.
Gauging the problem
Every pro has its con, and this time, it's going to be the German side's weakness. Sports analysts believe that the main problem with Die Mannschaft is the health of Manuel Neuer, their go-to skipper.
The 32-year-old goalkeeper had been out of the field since September, and up until now, looks unlikely to make it to Kiev. And putting Marc-Andre Ter Stegen of Barcelona on his position is a huge gamble knowing that the 26-year-old lacks valuable experience.
Jerome Boateng’s likely absence in the World Cup will also cost Germany a lot of offensive prowess. His sustained injury from their Champions League semi-finals matchup against Real Madrid proved to be a game-breaker for him.
Niklas Sule will replace Boateng if he fails to make it in time. This, again, is a huge risk for Joachim Low as Sule is known for his preference for short passes — habit gameplay that Low doesn't usually agree with.
Another great thing about Germany’s squad for this World Cup is its midfield prowess. They’re jampacked with elite midfielders. There’s Toni Kross whose specialty in making key passes, long shots, and layoffs will surely make a big difference in Low’s gameplays.
Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller’s versatility in clutch interceptions will also go perfectly well with Mesut Ozil’s mastery in making through balls and ball handling. This is a very good thing for the German team as they were short of experienced and championship-tested midfielders in Brazil.
This time, however, will be a reckoning of their previous woes. Their core will be at full display once they play in Kiev, thanks to these players.
The striking department will also have a new strong addition, Timo Werner, who had excelled in the international scene lately. The 22-year-old might lack experience, but his finishing skills are on par with Ozil’s, which is a good enough reason for Low to accept him in the squad.
Anyway, there’s Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez whom the German manager can use if ever the team needs additional strength and scope.
Position in the FIFA World Cup
Germany made record in the European World Cup qualifiers after winning all of their ten matches. Nonetheless, being included in Group C was a lucky thing for them as they completely annihilated their opponents.
They weren’t also doubted to dominate right from the beginning, knowing that they’re the current reigning football champs. Thomas Muller and Sandro Wagner bagged five goals each in the campaign, thereby becoming the top scoring leaders in the group.
The German team made a total of 43 goals, which is, by all means, a difficult score to achieve.
The series of luck kept on coming in for the Germans as they also dominated Group G, defeating USA and Portugal, and surprisingly got a draw with Ghana. They finished the quarterfinals after defeating France in a single goal.
With this alone, one can see how prepared and ready the Germans are for the upcoming World Cup.
Muller and Kroos set to lead Germany
One of the most notable players in the German team is Thomas Muller who’s best known for his expertise in the midfield position. However, it isn’t the only role he excels in as he can do great in pretty much any role.
Put him in the forward lines, or perhaps place him at the back, and you’ve got yourself a multitasker. That is what’s great about him — his versatility. He burst into the global scene during the 2010 World Cup and since then had made ten World Cup goals.
Muller likes to make layoffs, which is just what the German team needs knowing that they focus on attacks and offside awareness. His game cuts and hesitation to tackle are also sure-fire ways to counter any opposition that prioritizes defense.
Though he might lack a defensive game, there’s still no need to worry about that as Jerome Boateng and Joshua Kimmich will lead Die Mannschaft’s defense.
Here’s also Toni Kroos, Real Madrid's elite midfielder that had seen the ins and outs of international games. He's no stranger to the World Cup, and that can be attributed to his greatest strength. But then again, he's not just about that as he's also known to dictate the game's tempo.
That's a necessary skill knowing that Low needs a fiery player who can make up for his coaching gaps if ever there's any. His greatest achievement was perhaps during the 2014 World Cup when they defeated Brazil in the semi-finals.
Kroos contributed greatly to their attacks during that game, and that’s what gained him this World Cup’s spot. His midfield help during their struggle against Argentina in Brazil also gained him lots of experience.
What makes him remarkable though is that he won all these at a very young age — 24-years-old. Now that four years have passed, there would be no doubt that he'll step up his game even more. His strengths are his passing and long shots, skills which will make up for Germany's lack of fluidity in the field.
Taking set pieces are also his thing, as well as layoffs, two skills which will bolster Die Mannschaft’s squad.
Knowing the Die Mannschaft squad
Germany’s goalkeeping division is jampacked with great talent from Europe’s biggest clubs. Bundesliga stars Manuel Neuer and Bernd Leno from Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, respectively, are expected to showcase their ball interception skills this coming June 14.
Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Marc Andre ter Stegen and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp might serve as goalkeeping reserves, though no official confirmation has been said. Neuer is already 32-years-old and has lots of experience when it comes to games like these.
His expertise will help guide the other three goalkeepers. Leno still has much to show as he’s had a series of lapses when it comes to saving long shots lately. Good thing there’s Stegen who's excellent at reflex shot stopping, and sudden ball strikes.
Trapp is also expected to excel thanks to his spectacular showcase of saving close range and long shots in his previous games.
Meanwhile, Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng will lead the team’s defenders. They’re some of the finest players from Bayern Munich, so with that alone, it’d be safe to expect that they can topple the giants this coming World Cup.
Jonathan Tah, Jonas Hector, and Marvin Plattenhardt have also been included in the squad, together with Niklas Sule, Matthias Ginter, and Antonio Rudiger. Hector is a spectacular blocker, and his expertise in aerial duels will surely counter Messi's blazing agility.
Plattenhardt had learned a lot in Hertha Berlin too, as what we can see with his ball handling and crossing. Though he’s not the best when it comes to tackling and he’s a bit hesitant at times, Antonio Rudiger’s aggressive style of play will make up for it.
Meanwhile, Timo Werner and Nils Peterson will take the forward roles, together with Mario Gomez. Werner, being the first line of offense of Leipzig, had learned a great deal of finishing tactics.
His counter attack threats and short passes will also be handy, especially if he shares the field with Gomez and Petersen. Gomez has a special skill in finishing and aerial duels while Petersen's defensive prowess will make up for the two's weak defense.
Mesut Ozil, the star player from Arsenal will play together with Tony Kroos, Sami Khedira and Sebastian Rudy in Germany’s midfield positions. Their crossing, passing, and through ball making strengths will deal a huge blow on their opponents.
Leon Goretzka, Julian Draxler, and Leroy Sane will also use their experience from the Bundesliga, Premier League, and Ligue One, in the world’s biggest football arena. Ilkay Gundongan and Julian Brandt’s presence shouldn’t also be forgotten as their finishing and tackling skills are on par with Suarez and Salah’s.
The German squad is undoubtedly a contender for this year's World Cup. Yes, they're the reigning champs, and they've got all the resources to make a repeat this year. However, things have changed in general.
It’s not a question of if whether they can dominate, but it’s all about asking if they can adapt to the more competitive arena, that is the World Cup.
Hopefully, Germany’s biggest and brightest players will be on full blast once the competition kicks in as it will be the grandest arena to showcase their talents. Not only will this make them even more famous, but this will also deal a positive blow to their transfer values.
Then again, there’s Brazil that wishes to get the title to themselves knowing that they dominated the World Cup numerous times already. Can Neymar and co dominate the competition? Probably. But that would mean defeating other giants like Germany and Spain who’s also got multiple talents in store.
To end it, yes, Germany can win this year’s World Cup title, that is, however, if they can topple Brazil and Spain.