Four years have come and gone and we’re just weeks away from another FIFA World Cup, with Germany looking to lift the trophy for a record-equalling fifth time.
The defending champions are in good shape ahead of the 21st edition of the tournament and are rightly considered one of the favourites to go all the way. bundesliga.com looks at five reasons why this Germany squad will end up top of the pile yet again…
Even with all the talent in the world, there is no substitute for World Cup know-how. A very sizeable contingent of nine players in Germany’s preliminary squad have experienced this competition before, but crucially, they have a coach and a core set of players that know what it takes to win it. The same cannot be said for the likes of Brazil, France and even Spain, who have retained just five players that won the trophy in 2010 in their provisional squad.
2) Strength in depth
When analysing the strength of this squad, it’s worth noting the talent that did not even make the initial cut. There is no room for Mario Götze, scorer of the winning goal in the 2014 final, nor for fellow 2014 champions Andre Schürrle and Benedikt Höwedes, and Emre Can also misses out.
Yet their absence is more than compensated for by a bountiful supply of talent. A raft of young and hungry players have been included this year, such as Bayern Munich’s omnipotent defender Joshua Kimmich, Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt. And despite the absence of the aforementioned players, the new recruits boast useful tournament experience of their own, with 15 of the 27 names in the squad lifting the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Watch: Four Germany stars who hit form at the right time before the World Cup!
3) Individual talent
Despite some notable exceptions – Ronaldo with Brazil in 2002 and Diego Maradona with Argentina in 1986, for example – it’s the strength of the collective that brings a side World Cup glory. That being said, some of Germany’s individual talent will strike fear into the hearts of their rivals. Manuel Neuer, despite his injuries this season, remains the best goalkeeper in the world and Jerome Boateng was one of Germany’s star performers in 2014.
Then there is Toni Kroos, who has become one of the very best midfielders in the world while with Real Madrid. And finally we have the wildcard: Marco Reus. The Borussia Dortmund star is nearing his 29th birthday and yet is about to make his World Cup debut. How he approaches this tournament will be fascinating, as is the thought of what we can expect from him.