Germany begin the defence of their World Cup crown on Sunday by taking on Mexico in their opening game of Group F at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Bidding to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully retain the World Cup, Joachim Low’s side are rightfully considered by many as one of the favourites to win the tournament, boasting one of the most talented squads set to take part in Russia, although with one win in their previous four games before the finals, Germany’s form is far from ideal.
In a group that also contains Sweden and South Korea, many expect Die Mannschaft to top Group F, although their opener against El Tricolor will provide a stern test in Russia’s capital.
Here is how Germany could line up against Mexico on Sunday:
1. GK: Manuel Neuer
While Manuel Neuer’s 2017/18 season was hampered by injury, Joachim Low stated that “if he goes to the World Cup, he is the number one,” so with the 32-year-old taking his place in Germany’s 23-man squad, he appears set to start the opener against Mexico.
Still regarded as one of the top goalkeepers in world football, Neuer will be hoping for similar performances in Brazil four years ago that helped Germany to their fourth World Cup once again; this time as Low’s captain.
2. RB: Joshua Kimmich
Playing at his first World Cup, Joshua Kimmich has the small matter of replacing Germany legend Philipp Lahm at right back, although having done so at Bayern Munich, the 23-year-old has proven he’s more than capable of filling the void.
Already earning 29 caps and attaining tournament experience with the national team as part of Germany’s Euro 2016 side, Kimmich has established himself as first choice right back for Low, as he prepares to make his World Cup bow on Sunday.
3. CB: Jerome Boateng
One half of Joachim Low’s preferred central defensive pairing, Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng will be hoping for similar fortune’s at this summer’s World Cup to the ones he experienced in South America four years prior.
A strong, athletic centre back blessed with decent turn of pace, the 29-year-old will hope to put recent injury problems behind him, as he looks more than likely to start Germany’s opening game of Group F.
4. CB: Mats Hummels
Jerome Boateng’s centre back partner for both club and country, Mats Hummels is a certainty to start the game against Mexico, provided he doesn’t pick up an injury between now and Sunday.
Garnering a reputation as one of the best in his position, the ball-playing defender oozes class and confidence at the heart of Germany’s defence, while also being a threat in the oppositions box, as his winner against France during the 2014 World Cup quarter finals exemplifies.
5. LB: Jonas Hector
Despite suffering relegation with club side FC Koln in the Bundesliga this season, Jonas Hector has remained a firm favourite under Joachim Low since his debut in 2014, becoming Germany’s first choice left back in the process.
A sturdy operator down the left flank, Hector’s quality on the ball complements the way Germany like to play, and seems likely to start the game against Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium.
6. RDM: Sami Khedira
Determined to make up for the disappointment of missing out on the 2014 World Cup final after sustaining an injury in the warm up, Sami Khedira will be hoping for better luck in Russia, starting with the Group F opener on Sunday.
Remaining a key player for Germany, the 31-year-old has forged an impressive partnership in the middle of the park with Toni Kroos, with the Juventus man’s energetic displays the perfect foil for the Real Madrid’s passing expertise.
7. LDM: Toni Kroos
After helping Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League win as recently as May, Toni Kroos will be hoping to transition his club success to the national team.
As one of three players in Joachim Low’s squad to have earned over 80 caps for Germany (83), Kroos’ experience and quality in the centre of midfield will be vital in Russia, setting the tempo for the 2014 World Cup winners to play at.
8. RAM: Thomas Muller
With over a quarter of his 38 international goals coming in the World Cup (10), Thomas Muller has a knack of finding the back of the net at football’s biggest tournament, as the 28-year-old hopes his impressive record continues in Russia.
A Golden Boot winner at his first World Cup in 2010, Muller’s industry down the right hand side is usually rewarded with goals, and with Germany expected to dominate possession and create a host of chances in the vast majority of games, he’s more than likely to add to his tally.
9. CAM: Mesut Ozil
While the 29-year-old divides opinion with his performances for club side Arsenal, Mesut Ozil is a key player for Joachim Low’s Germany, as his 90 caps and five German Player of the Year awards testify.
A knee problem has cast some doubt over whether the midfielder will start the game against Mexico on Sunday, although the former Real Madrid man did take part in a recent training session, with fans of Germany hoping to see the man with 23 goals and 40 assists for his country on the field.
10. LAM: Marco Reus
Perhaps the only position still up for grabs in Joachim Low’s starting XI after the surprise omission of Leroy Sane from the 23-man squad, the job could fall to Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, who cruelly missed out on the 2014 success due to injury.
After making only his first start of the season in February this season, Reus ended the campaign with seven goals in 11 Bundesliga games, and could make the position on the left his own this summer should he be given the chance against Mexico.
11. ST: Timo Werner
Tipped to lead the line for the defending champions, Timo Werner will be looking to make a big impression at this summer’s World Cup and prove why many believe he is one of the hottest prospects in world football.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a fine season for Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, netting 21 goals in all competitions, while his record for Germany of eight goals in 14 games suggests he’s more than comfortable on the international stage