Germany head to the Confederations Cup in Russia in June as world champions and coach Joachim Löw has included four previously uncapped Bundesliga players in his squad. Here’s why they can all make waves this summer.
Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim):
The Hoffenheim striker is the last of Germany’s golden generation from the 2009 Under-21 European Championship to pull on the famous white shirt. Wagner scored twice in the final as Germany thrashed England 4-0 alongside the likes of world champions Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels and Mesut Özil.
Since record-breaker Miroslav Klose hung up his boots after the 2014 World Cup, Joachim Löw has tested a number of options to fill the void in attack. Wolfsburg’s Mario Gomez starred at UEFA EURO 2016, whilst RB Leipzig’s 21-goal Timo Werner will join Wagner in Russia. But Wagner brings a different dimension, combining power, strength in the air and quality finishing to great effect.
The 29-year-old has carried his rich vein of form into the new year after ending 2016 as the highest-scoring German with 19 goals. Nine of those Bundesliga strikes came in the colours of Hoffenheim, but his contribution to recently-relegated Darmstadt last term with 14 goals in 32 games secured a sensational stay in the top flight.
The forward is not short of confidence either. "I’m still the best German striker."
Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin):
Hertha Berlin’s free-kick specialist earned his first call-up to Löw’s squad after previously starring at U-21 level for Germany. Plattenhardt has been one of the league’s most consistent full-backs, helping the Old Lady to a place in the UEFA Europa League group stages for next season.
The 25-year-old has become a vital cog in Pal Dardai’s well-drilled defensive unit. But he is most lethal when standing over a dead-ball situation. All three of the left-back’s league goals this season came from direct free-kicks, and no other current Bundesliga player has scored more from set-piece situations (7). Throw in another four assists and Plattenhardt has made a telling contribution to sixth-placed Hertha.
Watch: Marvin Plattenhardt's Goal of the Season contender against Darmstadt
Plattenhardt’s talent was evident in Hertha’s vital , his 71st minute thunderbolt coming in at 93km/hr. His goal at the Olympiastadion meant the Berliners maintained their unbeaten home record against Bayern Munich and Dortmund this season. "Marvin has this extra quality," praised sporting director Michael Preetz.
Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach):
Borussia Mönchengladbach captain Stindl struck 16 times in all competitions in the season just past – an incredible tally when you consider that the Foals finished ninth and that the 28-year-old typically operates between midfield and attack.
Unsurprisingly, his form earned the adulation of Germany boss Löw. "Lars has all the right requirements for us," the Bundestrainer said. "We have the opportunity to get to know each other better.” By March, Stindl had scored more in 2017 than he had the entirety of last year.
It is little wonder that Gladbach moved fast to tie the skipper to the club until 2021 given his habit of scoring important goals at the right time. His stunning hat-trick away to Fiorentina in February prompted an inspirational Gladbach comeback in the Europa League last 32. A late winner in the derby at Cologne on Matchday 28 further endeared him to the BORUSSIA-PARK faithful.
"Lars has become an incredibly important player for us – as captain and a dangerous attacking player on the pitch, and as a leading figure in the dressing room," Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl said. Stindl has developed an outstanding sense of awareness in and around the box, and figures to be strong competition in the future for Germany’s attacking regulars like Thomas Müller and Marco Reus.
Kerem Demirbay (Hoffenheim):
Demirbay has been on the books of some of Germany’s top clubs, such as Hamburg, Dortmund and Schalke. But the 23-year-old has found a welcoming home in Hoffenheim, where his six goals and 10 assists helped fire Julian Nagelsmann’s side to their first-ever appearance in the Champions League.
Demirbay has kept the same style of play from the fourth division to the Bundesliga. A clever attacking midfielder with a great touch and eye for a pass, he has been an ideal fit for Nagelsmann’s positional play philosophy. Just over a year ago, his Fortuna Düsseldorf side finished 14th in the second division. In April 2017, it was his dramatic late goal in Cologne which secured European football for the first time in Hoffenheim’s history.
Watch: Owo meets Kerem Demirbay
"It’s no surprise to see his call-up. It was clear he was a very good player who can bring everything and play at the top level," said Fortuna Düsseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel. Löw said he had "complete conviction" about Demirbay’s inclusion and if he can have half the impact on the Confederations Cup as he did this season, he should light up the tournament.
ALL NEW: Can you recognise these Bundesliga stadiums? Take part in our quiz below!