Earlier in the month, German national team manager Joachim Löw made the executive decision to bring all of the nation’s fringe players and youngsters to Russia for the Confederations Cup this summer. The decision, to help determine the future of German football, has looked to be a smart one, as several ‘B-team’ players have looked very confident against some of the world’s best.
Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, arguably the two greatest Germans of all-time at their positions, are done with international football, while Die Mannschaft also lost legends of this era in Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski to international retirement.
Additionally, much of the 2014 World Cup winning squad are in the latter-half of their careers. Die Mannschaft also lost legends of this era in Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski to international retirement. Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Marco Reus all will be 28 or older by the 2018 World Cup, so Löw needs a new wave of players to rely on for the future.
Only four players on the roster at the 2017 Confederations Cup are locks to earn a coveted spot for Russia next summer – Julian Draxler, Jonas Hector, Joshua Kimmich and Marc Andre ter Stegen. The rest entired this summer fighting to earn the manager’s attention to capture a spot for the World Cup.
Three veteran forwards look to be locks for next summer barring injury in Müller, Andre Schürrle and Mario Gomez. That trio may have racked up accolades both domestically and internationally, but Müller is coming off a poor Bundesliga season by his standards, Mario Gomez is nearly 32 and Schürrle has taken a step back from the player he was four years ago.
Of the three forwards Löw chose for the Confederations Cup, Lars Stindl and Timo Werner have both really impressed. Stindl is an inspirational and dedicated player, as the 28-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach centre-fielder saw his first-ever international appearance in 2017 following his standout campaign at Borussia. Stindl scored the opening goal in two of Germany’s three group stage matches against Australia and Chile. After pouring in 18 goals last season for ‘Gladbach and these solid showings, Stindl is on track to overcome the odds and make his first trip to the World Cup at age 29 next summer.
Werner, Germany’s most promising young striker, has also lived up to his billing so far in Russia, notching a brace in their 3-1 win over Cameroon to advance to the semi-finals. After a transfer from Stuttgart to Leipzig last summer, Werner broke out and scored 21 goals for the Red Bull side in 2016/17, leading Leipzig to a second-place Bundesliga finish. Germany’s weakest link for much of Löw’s tenure has been a true striker and Werner is the likely candidate to finally fill that hole. Right now, we may very well be watching Germany’s striker of the next decade begin his international career.
Defensively, Hector has been fantastic as he has been for the past two years of his career. The Köln left-back, who burst on the international scene at the 2016 Euro’s, has all-but secured the starting left back spot for Germany next summer barring injury. However, there are still a couple spots open at the backup centre-back and right-back positions for next year’s squad.
Kimmich, the Bayern Munich defensive midfielder, has also been a reassuring presence and consistent player this tournament. He will see playing time in the World Cup and is one of the best and most experienced under-23 German.
Two midfielders who have been standouts and made the most of their opportunities are Leon Goretzka and Sebastian Rudy. Goretzka was the Man of the Match against Australia, drawing a penalty and scoring a beautiful goal along with providing consistent, mistake-free play at the central midfield position. The 22-year-old Schalker is riding his success from the previous Bundesliga campaign, and his steady presence has to be great for his odds of playing in his first World Cup.
Rudy, who has made the move from Hoffenheim to Bayern this summer, is a similar story to Stindl. At 27, Rudy wasn’t a regular for Germany internationally until last year, and he’s yet to score an international goal. This is a versatile player who often uses his physical frame to boss the midfield, and he can also play right-back or centre-back if needed. Rudy has looked very comfortable in this tournament, and would be a perfect option as a reserve next summer who could add depth in multiple areas.