James Rodriguez, Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski and the Bundesliga's best set to star at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
It seems barely fathomable that it’s been nearly four years since Andre Schürrle crossed for Mario Götze to steer past Argentina’s Sergio Romero in the 113th minute of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.
Germany will get the defence of their title underway in less than a month. Naturally, as the home of the world champions, the Bundesliga will provide more than a few players for Joachim Löw’s squad in Russia.
Who else is going? James Rodriguez was the top scorer in Brazil for Colombia; Robert Lewandowski plundered a European record 16 goals in qualifying for Poland. bundesliga.com runs the rule over the Germany-based players who will star for countries from every corner of the world…
In final squad: Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Had been in contention: Landry Dimata (Wolfsburg), Orel Mangala (Stuttgart), Divock Origi (Wolfsburg)
Michy Batshuayi hit the ground running after joining Dortmund on loan from Chelsea, with seven goals in 10 Bundesliga games, and despite an ankle injury seemingly ending his World Cup hopes, he is still set to keep Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku company in the attacking berths. Thorgan Hazard, meanwhile, is proving that Eden might not be the only world-class player in the family…
READ: Former Belgium boss Marc Wilmots on why the Dortmund move made sense for Batshuayi
In final squad: Tin Jedvaj (Leverkusen), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Frankfurt)
Had been in contention: Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Josip Elez (Hannover)
World Cup dark horses Croatia are well-stocked with Bundesliga talent, particularly in the attacking areas. Andrej Kramaric and Ante Rebic are enjoying fine seasons domestically, while Schalke loanee Marko Pjaca appears to have put the injury troubles which plagued his time at parent club Juventus behind him to make Zlatko Dalic's final 23-man squad alongside DFB Cup final hero Ante Rebic.
In final squad: Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Jannik Vestergaard (Gladbach)
Had been in contention: Emil Berggreen (Mainz), Jacob Bruun Larsen (Stuttgart), Frederik Sörensen (Cologne),
With Bremen's Thomas Delaney anchoring the midfield and no-nonsense Leipzig striker Yussuf Poulsen leading the line, Denmark will fancy their chances of getting out of a group that also contains Australia, France and Peru. The Danes thrashed Northern Ireland 5-1 over two legs in the play-offs.
Had been in contention: Leon Bailey* (Leverkusen), Ademola Lookman (Leipzig), Reece Oxford (Gladbach), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
*Leon Bailey has only played for Jamaica’s U23 team to date, and while there is debate as to his eligibility, England have been reportedly pursuing the possibility.
Ademola Lookman, Reece Oxford and Jadon Sancho may only be capped at youth level for England, meanwhile, but stranger things have happened: Theo Walcott made the 2006 World Cup squad aged 17 with just 13 senior appearances to his name… Unfortunately, however, Gareth Southgate has decided not to look at any of the Bundesliga's English contingent.
READ: England keen on Bailey ahead of 2018 World Cup
READ: Breaking the grass ceiling: England’s frustrated youngsters flocking to the Bundesliga
In final squad: Afred Finnbogason (Augsburg)
What a story. The smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup finals tournament, and Augsburg’s Alfred Finnbogason was central to their success with three goals in qualifying. Before missing 10 games through injury, only Robert Lewandowski and Nils Petersen had outscored Finnbo in the Bundesliga this season. He still finished the season 10th in the standings with 12 goals to his name.
READ: Fire, Ice and Finnbogason
In final squad: Leon Balogun (Mainz)
Had been in contention: Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg), Anthony Ujah (Mainz)
Mainz defender Leon Balogun has been fighting relegation for most of the season, but that hasn't affected his chances. He's started Nigeria's last five matches, and even captained the Super Eagles in their final qualifier against Algeria. He will join English Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion after the tournament.
Had been in contention: Claudio Pizarro (Cologne)
Something of a club rather than a national hero, Claudio Pizarro last scored for Peru in June 2015. However, the 39-year-old’s strike in Cologne’s 3-2 loss against Stuttgart on Matchday 25 means he has now scored a Bundesliga goal in each of the last 20 – Yes: TWENTY - calendar years. Peru coach Ricardo Gareca has also said his experience would be valuable among his otherwise youthful group, but in the end has decided not to opt for the man known as "The Bomber of the Andes".
WATCH: Pizarro’s 20 Bundesliga goals in 20 years!
In final squad: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Wolfsburg),Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Lukasz Piszczek (Dortmund)
On standby: Marcin Kaminski (Stuttgart)
Had been in contention: Bartosz Kapustka (Freiburg), Pawel Olkowski (Cologne), Eugen Polanski (Hoffenheim)
Robert Lewandowski may have six Bundesliga titles to his name, and three Torjägerkanonen, but he’s never been to the World Cup. A European record 16 goals in qualifying suggest he’ll do some serious damage when he finally gets there…
READ: No pain, no gain for Robert Lewandowski
WATCH: Lewandowski's 100 goals for Bayern!
In final squad: Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Had been in contention: Bruma (Leipzig), Renato Sanches (Bayern)
Lewandowski will have some serious competition from Cristiano Ronaldo in his bid to become the tournament’s top scorer. Raphael Guerreiro is among those likely to be pumping balls into the box for the Real Madrid ace after being a constituent part of the team that won EURO 2016…
In final squad: Luka Jovic (Frankfurt), Milos Veljkovic (Bremen), Filip Kostic (Hamburg)
Had been in contention: Matija Nastasic (Schalke), Mijat Gacinovic (Frankfurt),Aleksandar Ignjovski (Freiburg), Milos Jojic (Cologne), Gojko Kacar (Augsburg), Milos Pantovic (Bayern)
After DFB Cup success with Frankfurt , Luka Jovic, is the standout of the Bundesliga's Serbian contingent in 2017/18. His is also joined by Milos Veljkovic from Bremen and Hamburg's Filip Kostic, who will be pleased that relegation to Bundesliga 2 did not damage his chances. Matija Nastastic and Mijat Gacinovic both miss out from the preliminary squad.
In final squad: Ja-Cheol Koo (Augsburg),
Had been in contention: Young-Jae Seo (Hamburg)
Hamburg left-back Young-Jae Seo was something of a wild card, having yet to play in the Bundesliga or for the senior South Korea side. Augsburg's Ja-Cheol Koo, on the other hand, was - barring injury - always going to make the final squad.
In final squad: Thiago Alcantara (Bayern)
Had been in contention: Juan Bernat (Bayern), Ignacio Camacho (Wolfsburg), Javi Martinez (Bayern), Omar Mascarell (Frankfurt), Jorge Mere (Cologne)
Spain rather underwhelmed in Brazil four years ago, failing to make it out of the group stages. In Thiago Alcantara, the 2010 champions now have the perfect successor to Xavi Hernandez, though – a chance Barcelona squandered in letting the midfielder join Bayern in 2013. He is, however, not joined by fellow Bayern players Javi Martinez and Juan Bernat.
READ: Thiago Alcantara: 10 things on the Spain and Bayern star
In final squad: Manuel Akanji (Dortmund), Roman Bürki (Dortmund), Josip Drmic (Gladbach), Nico Elvedi (Gladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Gelson Fernandes (Frankfurt), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Gladbach), Denis Zakaria (Gladbach), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim)
Had been in contention: Marwin Hitz (Dortmund), Fabian Lustenberger (Hertha), Admir Mehmedi (Wolfsburg), Renato Steffen (Wolfsburg)
Switzerland were incredible in qualifying, winning a perfect nine out of nine games before running into Portugal on the final day. Vladimir Petkovic’s team are in safe hands: their four goalkeepers – Yann Sommer, Roman Bürki, Yvon Mvogo and Gregor Kobel – all ply their trade in Germany’s top flight.