Leon Goretzka (l.), Joshua Kimmich (c.) and Julian Brandt (r.) have all made in excess of 50 Bundesliga appearances.
Leon Goretzka (l.), Joshua Kimmich (c.) and Julian Brandt (r.) have all made in excess of 50 Bundesliga appearances.
Bundesliga

Goretzka, Werner, Kimmich, Brandt and Süle: Germany's next golden generation!

For the first time in many years, there is no Philipp Lahm, Lukas Podolski or Bastian Schweinsteiger in the Germany squad that Joachim Löw is taking to a major tournament as the world champions look to defend their title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

With Löw having named his provisional 27-man squad for this summer’s tournament, bundesliga.com looks at some of the up-and-coming stars who could make you forget about the famous faces from the 2014 squad who are no longer involved.

Watch: Germany's next golden generation in action

Leon Goretzka(Schalke/Bayern Munich, born: 6 February, 1995)

Then: The 2013/14 season heralded Goretzka's arrival on the biggest domestic stage, The long-legged midfielder — fashioned at hometown club Bochum — replaced Julian Draxler to make his debut in a Royal Blue shirt.

Not quite as precocious as Schalke's then-terrace darling, Goretzka still made a significant impact, scoring four goals in 25 league games to help the team clinch UEFA Champions League football with a third-placed finish while he had already caught Löw's eye.

Named in the provisional World Cup squad, he made his senior international debut against Poland in Hamburg only to suffer an injury that reduced his already slim chances of going to Brazil to nothing.

Timo Werner(RB Leipzig, born: 6 March, 1996)

Then: The 2013/14 season did not see Werner so much break through as smash his way onto the Bundesliga scene with hometown club Stuttgart, churning out record after record faster than a success-hungry X-Factor winner: youngest VfB first-team debutant in any competition at 17 years and four months, youngest Bundesliga debutant soon after and — within four top-flight appearances — VfB's most baby-faced top-flight goalscorer.

Later in the campaign, he scored twice in a 3-1 win to become… you get the picture. It'll be no surprise to learn Stuttgart signed him to a four-year deal as soon as he turned 18.

Joshua Kimmich(Bayern, born: 8 February 1995)

Then: The first season after his move from Stuttgart to Leipzig could not have gone better. A first professional goal gave his 26 third-tier appearances added shine as Kimmich, then 18, played his part in his club's promotion to Bundesliga 2 as a midfielder. In a first step towards emulating his idols Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan, he was central to a Germany squad also featuring Niklas Stark, Julian Brandt and Davie Selke that lifted the U19 EURO title.

Watch: Kimmich and Lahm at 100

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Julian Brandt(Bayer Leverkusen, born: 2 May, 1996)

Then: After joining Wolfsburg in 2011, the baby-faced blonde must have thought the Volkswagen Arena would provide the stage for his professional debut. Midway through the 2013/14 season, the Wolves let one of their pack slip away, however, and Brandt moved to Leverkusen where sporting director Rudi Völler hailed the arrival of "one of the most talented young players in German football".

Within a month, he had made his Bundesliga debut, and three days later got his first moreish taste of the UEFA Champions League against a Paris Saint-Germain side boasting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti — a heady rise for a 17-year-old who had been playing junior football earlier in the campaign.

After initially using him as a substitute, boss Sami Hyypia gave Brandt his first start on Matchday 29 and kept him in the starting line-up, eventually being rewarded with two goals and three assists in a dozen league appearances before Brandt joined forces with Kimmich & Co. to win U19 UEFA EURO 2014.

Now: Brandt now has a century of Bundesliga games under his belt and 14 senior caps for his country, just under half those collected by his idol, Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus. And he's only just turned 22.

His last three seasons as a bona fide first-teamer have seen him involved in at least 12 goals in each, and his 11 assists in 2016/17 were bettered by just five Bundesliga players, including Bayern's Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben. His nine goals and three assists this season suggest that the FIFA Confederations Cup winner will be more than handy to have at the World Cup.

2018 replacement for: Lukas Podolski

Niklas Süle(Bayern, born: 3 September, 1995)

Then: An unfamiliar name that had journalists scrambling when he was named in the Hoffenheim line-up in the dwindling light of the 2012/13 season, Süle was a much more significant fixture in the team in World Cup year as Markus Gisdol saw the potential in his powerful 6'5" physique, handing him 25 Bundesliga appearances.

An U19 international at the time, Süle had received a call from the Turkish FA wondering if he would consider playing for them, because — as the Frankfurt-born centre-back, whose grandfather was Hungarian, himself explained — "they thought my name sounded Turkish."

Now: Eintracht Frankfurt and Darmstadt will be kicking themselves. Süle was on their books as a youngster, but then joined Hoffenheim in 2010. Since last summer and having been the immovable rock on which Hoffenheim's third-placed finish was built, he is now a Bayern Munich player.

"There's nothing better for a young player like me than to learn from the best in the world," he said, referring to club teammates Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, whom he joined at international level shortly after UEFA EURO 2016.

Süle, another to have added Confederations Cup victory to Olympic silver, is already developing into an imposing mixture of both: clean, firm and accurate in both the tackle and the pass. Draw the ideal modern-day centre-back, and you draw Niklas Süle.

2018 replacement for: Per Mertesacker

Nils Petersen(Freiburg, born: 6 December, 1988)

Then: Something of a late bloomer, Petersen had scored 18 goals in two seasons for Werder Bremen by the time the 2014 World Cup rolled around. The former Bayern Munich striker fell down the pecking order at Bremen after the arrival of a new coach for the following campaign, however, and he moved on to Freiburg - initially on loan – in January 2015.

The ex-Germany U21 international’s nine goals in 12 matches could not prevent Christian Streich’s team from being relegated, but he found the net 21 times in Bundesliga 2 in 2015/16 to ensure an immediate return to the top flight.

Watch: Petersen nets a hat-trick in the snow at Cologne

Now: Petersen enhanced his reputation as a supersub in 2016/17, scoring 10 league goals despite only starting seven games during Freiburg’s first season back in the Bundesliga. With 15 goals in 32 matches this term, however, he was the highest-scoring German in the division.

Having saved his club from relegation in the process, Petersen has forced himself into the World Cup reckoning. The 29-year-old’s form in a struggling team was impossible to ignore, and he was chosen ahead of Sandro Wagner for the provisional World Cup squad.

“Nils has scored 15 Bundesliga goals for a team which hasn’t created that many chances,” Löw said. “He’s made a really, really good impression on me and he’s fit to play. He’s proven that he’s an excellent super sub. I think that he can grow from this challenge. I’m expecting great things from him.”

2018 replacement for: Andre Schürrle

Jonathan Tah(Bayer Leverkusen, born: 11 February, 1996)

Then: A fresh-faced 18-year-old, Tah will have learned a lot by making 16 appearances in the 2013/14 season for a HSV side that escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth.

The Hamburg native was sent out to gain further experience with second-tier Fortuna Düsseldorf the following campaign, and – though his home town club wanted to keep him – the Germany U19 captain opted to join Leverkusen in the summer of 2015. 

Click here for all you need to know about Germany's World Cup campaign!