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. runs the rule over the Germany-based players who will star for countries from every corner of the world…

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia.
Mario Götze (l.) wheels away with Thomas Müller (r) after his extra-time volley against Argentina in Rio de Janeiro delivered a fourth FIFA World Cup title for Germany four years ago. © gettyimages / Jamie McDonald


Had been in contention: David Abraham (Eintracht Frankfurt), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Santiago Ascacibar (VfB Stuttgart), Franco Di Santo (Schalke), Emiliano Insua (Stuttgart)

A Lionel Messi hat-trick against Ecuador on the final day of CONMEBOL qualifying punched Argentina’s ticket to the tournament at the last. Who will now join him on the plane? Lucas Alario and Emiliano Insua had both been called up in the last year, and the former did end the season with a brace, but all have been left out of Jorge Sampaoli's preliminary 35-man squad.

READ: Alario: Have Argentina forgotten their World Cup secret weapon alongside Messi?

A FIFA World Cup remains the only significant piece of silverware in the sport that still eludes Lionel Messi (l.). Can Lucas Alario (r.) help the Barcelona man rectify that this summer? © gettyimages / JUAN MABROMATA


In final squad: Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin)

Matthew Leckie was an ever-present for the Socceroos, who qualified for the finals after a play-off win over Honduras. Ex-Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart midfielder Robbie Kruse - currently of Bundesliga 2 side Bochum - is also included as part of the side coached by former Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg coach Bert van Marwijk.


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

Belgium were ranked as the world's No. 1 team by FIFA as recently as March 2016. With attacking talent like Eden Hazard, Michy Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne (l-r.), it's little wonder. © gettyimages / REMY GABALDA


Had been in contention: Naldo (Schalke), Rafinha (Bayern Munich), Douglas Santos (Hamburg), Walace (Hamburg), Wendell (Leverkusen), William (Wolfsburg)

In Douglas Santos, Walace and William, the Bundesliga boasts three players who won Gold for Brazil at the 2016 Olympics alongside Neymar. Further back, Schalke stalwart Naldo has arguably been the best centre-back in the league this season. Brazil coach Tite said he had been considering the 35-year-old’s cause, but has since decided not to include any Bundesliga players in his 23-man squad.

READ: Why Schalke’s Naldo deserved a Brazil recall

Hamburg midfielder Walace (l.) was one of three Bundesliga players to win Olympic gold with Brazil in 2016 alongside Gabriel Jesus (c.) and Neymar (r.). © imago


In final squad: James Rodriguez (Bayern)
Had been in contention: Jhon Cordoba (Cologne)

James Rodriguez top scored at the 2014 World Cup with six goals on Colombia’s road to the quarter-finals. The attacking midfielder has hit the ground running since joining Bayern Munich from Real Madrid, and will be the first name on Jose Pekerman’s teamsheet.

READ: James Rodriguez: 10 things on the Bayern and Colombia star

WATCH: ALL of James' Bundesliga goals and assists so far!


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

You heard it here first: Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey has an outside chance of representing England.


In final squad: Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern)
Had been in contention: Jean-Kevin Augustin (Leipzig), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Abdou Diallo (Mainz), Simon Falette (Frankfurt), Josuha Guilavogui (Wolfsburg), Sebastien Haller (Frankfurt), Vincent Koziello (Cologne), Dayot Upamecano (Leipzig)

Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard was an ever-present for his club in 2017/18, and has featured in France's last two friendlies. Corentin Tolisso's inclusion is just reward for an impressive debut campaign at Bayern that yielded 10 goals and seven assists in 39 appearances in all competitions.

READ: February Rookie of the Month winner: Pavard

"I'm sure you'll join me on the plane, Benjamin" - Corentin Tolisso (l.) and, of late, Benjamin Pavard (r.) are central to Didier Deschamps' France plans. © imago


In final squad: Julian Brandt (Leverkusen), Jerome Boateng (Bayern), Matthias Ginter (Gladbach), Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), , Thomas Müller (Bayern), Manuel Neuer (Bayern), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern), Niklas Sule (Bayern), Timo Werner (Leipzig)
Had been in preliminary squad: Bernd Leno (Leverkusen), Nils Petersen (Freiburg), Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen)
Had been in contention: Karim Bellarabi (Leverkusen), Kerem Demirbay (Hoffenheim), Diego Demme (Leipzig), Yannick Gerhardt (Wolfsburg), Serge Gnabry (Hoffenheim), Mario Götze (Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Leverkusen), Benjamin Henrichs (Leverkusen), Max Kruse (Bremen), Philipp Max (Augsburg), Max Meyer (Schalke), Andre Schürrle (Dortmund), Lars Stindl (Gladbach), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen), Sven Ulreich (Bayern), Kevin Volland (Leverkusen), Sandro Wagner (Bayern), Julian Weigl (Dortmund)

Naturally, as the home of the world champions, the Bundesliga has an embarrassment of riches to contribute to Joachim Löw’s squad. Die Nationalmannschaft could send three or four squads to the tournament and still be in with a chance of defending their title.

Attention had been on whether Manuel Neuer – the world’s best goalkeeper – and gifted BVB attacker Marco Reus will be fit in time. Reus missed the 2014 World Cup, as well as EURO 2016, with injury and looks set for his first major tournament.

READ: How Germany could look at the 2018 World Cup!

READ: Manuel Neuer back to fitness and picked in squad!

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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

Augsburg striker Alfred Finnbogason (r.) waves UEFA EURO 2016 goodbye after helping Iceland get to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten by hosts, France. © imago


In final squad: Genki Haraguchi (Hertha), Makoto Hasebe (Frankfurt), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Yuya Osako (Cologne), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Düsseldorf)
Has been in preliminary squad: Takuma Asano (Hannover/Stuttgart)
Had been in contention: Tatsuya Ito (Hamburg)

Shinji Kagawa and his Bundesliga-based Japanese cohorts qualified for the final in Russia in some style, losing just two of their 18 games. Dortmund star Kagawa and Hertha Berlin-owned Genki Haraguchi – neither of them strikers – plundered six and five goals respectively.

READ: Stöger turning back the Klopp on Kagawa

Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa has 29 goals in 89 caps for Japan. © gettyimages


In final squad: Marco Fabian (Frankfurt), Carlos Salcedo (Frankfurt)

The USA’s loss was Mexico’s gain in CONCACAF qualifying. Christian Pulisic and Co. could only finish fifth in the final section, which Mexico won five points clear of Costa Rica. Carlos Salcedo’s El Tri even beat the USMNT 2-1 in Ohio. Frankfurt teammate Marco Fabian was injured for that game, but his recent return to fitness means he is all-but guaranteed his place in Russia.

Despite having a direct hand in 11 goals, Christian Pulisic (l.) couldn't stop the USA from failing to qualify for a first FIFA World Cup finals since 1986. There were no such problems for Mexico, but for the odd yellow card... © gettyimages / Jamie Sabau


In final squad: Amine Harit (Schalke)

Schalke summer signing Amine Harit represented France at youth level, but has since pledged his allegiance to Morocco, making his senior international debut against Gabon in qualifying last year. The 20-year-old's quick feet will be a real boon for the Atlas Lions, who return to the finals after a 20-year absence.


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…

Cristiano Ronaldo (r.) was ably assisted by Raphael Guerreiro (l.) as Portugal won their first ever major trophy at UEFA Euro 2016. © imago


In final squad: Salif Sane (Hannover)

Hannover defender Salif Sane has stiff competition for a starting berth, but was certain to make Senegal's final squad.


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.

South Korea

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

Bayern's Thiago Alcantara is the only Bundesliga star in the Spain squad for the World Cup. © imago


In final squad: Ludwig Augustinsson (Bremen), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (Leipzig)
Had been in contention: Branimir Hrgota (Frankfurt), Alexander Isak (Dortmund), Robin Quaison (Mainz)

If Leipzig's Emil Forsberg can rediscover the sort of form that saw him rack up a league-high 19 Bundesliga assists last term, Sweden could cause real problems for Germany, South Korea and Mexico in Group F. Bremen defender Ludwig Augustinsson is another key player for the Swedes, who famously dumped out Italy in the play-offs.


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.

Bundesliga goalkeepers Roman Bürki, Marwin Hitz (who has withdrawn from the squad) and Yann Sommer (l-r.) have 42 Switzerland caps between them. © gettyimages / PASCAL GUYOT


Had been in contention: Mohamed Gouaida (Hamburg)

The chances of Mohamed Gouaida making the Tunisia squad were always slim to none. The 24-year-old midfielder has not been capped since 2015, and has spent the 2017/18 campaign playing for the Hamburg reserves.

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