Today, with Germany, we continue our profiles, in reverse alphabetical order, of the 32 teams which qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Die Mannschaft (the team) are participating in their 19th World Cup. They have qualified for every cup they have chosen to or been allowed to participate in—having chosen not to participate in Uruguay’s inaugural cup in 1930 and being banned from the 1950 cup in Brazil because of having started WWII. The Germans have won the cup four times (1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014) one shy of record-holder Brazil. The Germans are otherwise the most successful team in the cup’s history, having come in second and third four times each and fourth once.
The team, though, has been on a downward spiral since their 2014 victory. They crashed out of the Russia 2018 World Cup at the Group Stage and in the 2020 Euro they came in second to France in their preliminary group and then lost 0-2 to England in their Round of 16 match. The day before yesterday, playing with their full starting line-up save Manuel Neuer (substituted for by Marc-Andre ter Stegen) and Antonio Rudiger (substituted for by Nico Schlotterbeck) they were leading England at Wembley 2-0 and ended up drawing 3-3.
Placed in Group E with Spain, Costa Rica, and Japan, the Germans feel they will go through as either the first or second-placed team, and given the weaker CONCACAF and AFC contenders that is exactly what should happen. The Spain v Germany match-up will be one of the games of the cup as the loser will likely have to face Belgium in the Round of 16. Germany’s home colors are a black and white shirt, black pants with white highlights, and white socks with black highlights, and their away uniform is all black with red highlights on the shirtsleeves.
A country in central Europe covering 137,847 square miles situated between the North and Baltic Seas in the north and the Alps to the south, with a climate that ranges from 38F in the winters to 68F in the summers. Germany has been inhabited since 800 BC and a region named Germania existed before 100 AD. The Germanic tribes unified in 1871, but after losing WWI and WWII, the post-WWII West-East division began in 1949, before Reunification took place in 1990 making the nation a federal parliamentary republic.
Germany has a population of 83.7M of which 82% are ethnically German, 67% are Christian, and speak German as their official language. The country has a GDP of $4.7T, the fourth largest in the world, an HDI score of 0.942 (very high), and has had an outsized impact on the world stage for having been the instigator and loser of our globe’s two WWs. That aside, they have given us, among many others, some of the greatest contributors to humanity, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, Albrecht Durer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, Thomas Mann, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Johannes Gutenberg, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Johannes Kepler, Alexander von Humboldt, Albert Einstein, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Martin Luther, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Squad (which may change before the cup given injuries, form, and coaching choices—teams mentioned are subject to change given transfers): Goalkeepers—Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), and Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt); Defenders—David Raum (RB Leipzig), Robin Gosens (Inter), Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid) Nico Schlotterbeck (Dortmund), Niklas Süle (Dortmund), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), Lukas Klostermann (Leipzig), and Thilo Kehrer (PSG); Midfielders— Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), Anton Stach (Mainz 05), ?lkay Gündo?an (Man City), Leon Goretzka (Bayern), Jamal Musiala (Bayern), Leroy Sané (Bayern), Thomas Müller (Bayern), and Marco Reus (Dortmund); Strikers— Jonas Hofmann (Gladbach), Serge Gnabry (Bayern), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), and Kai Havertz (Chelsea).
Path to Qatar
Germany were a seeded team in UEFA World Cup qualifying and were placed in Group J with North Macedonia, Romania, Armenia, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. With such a ridiculously easy group to navigate the Germans qualified directly to Qatar with 27 points out of 10 games and a +32-goal differential. Their one loss, a 1-2 home defeat to North Macedonia, arguably the only somewhat competitive competitor in the group, was indicative of the German’s true form of late.
German coach, Hansi Flick, likes an offensive-minded 4-2-3-1 lineup to begin with but takes advantage of the team’s embarrassment of riches in attack transforming into a 3-2-5 when in possession. With a strong attack-minded midfield supporting an equally strong string of strikers, Flick focuses on goal scoring and leaves the defense in the able hands of Neuer and/or ter Stegen abetted by Rudiger and Niklas Sule.
This team has too many stars to list, but the key players are, in defense Neuer and Rudiger, in midfield Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan, Jamal Musiala, and Leroy Sane, and on offense Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz. Yet, Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Timo Werner, and the available if less used Julian Draxler and Emre Can, who can come off the bench, are probable starters in someone else’s national team.
Group and Tourney Prospects
The Germans are one of the World Cup’s fixtures—it simply is not a World Cup without them. As always, they will be one of the contenders to win it all, but in this cup Argentina, Brazil, France, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, and Croatia are playing better futbol. Barring a 2018-style meltdown, coming out of their group will be a foregone conclusion and their placement will be a matter of how they perform against Spain.
Should they come in first and meet Croatia they will be in for one of the games of the tourney and should they come in second Belgium await with at least as talented a team and with a few balance tippers in Kevin de Bruyne and Thibault Courtois. If the Germans are lucky enough to get past those opponents, they will most likely end their cup at their next good-team match-up, likely playing either Portugal or Brazil. The former have played the Germans even of late but the toll of the German’s previous match will make them weaker than the Portuguese would be after beating likely opponent Switzerland. Brazil as a potential opponent is what World Cup fans live for, but in this cup, the South Americans are simply both stronger and more motivated to beat a comparatively weaker Die Mannschaft.
Photo: Joshua Kimmich, Shutterstock ID 1561435006, by ph.FAB