This time next week Thomas Müller could well have moved past a century of Germany caps. The Bayern Munich man, barely two months past his 29th birthday, has 98 to his name with games against Russia and the Netherlands to come.
In Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos and Matthias Ginter, the game’s first – and perhaps last – Raumdeuter is joined in Joachim Löw’s most recent squad by four others who lifted the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Yet among all the caps and trophies, there is still space for some relatively new faces for Die Mannschaft.
Bundesliga-based trio Kai Havertz, Niko Schulz and Mark Uth each earned their first senior international appearance after the 2018 edition in Russia. bundesliga.com has the scoop on what they bring to the team…
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Central midfielder
Key stat: 90% pass completion in 2018/19
Already into his third full Bundesliga season, it’s easy to forget that Havertz is still only 19. The Aachen-born midfielder is nominally left-footed, but can make and take goals with either foot, with the former skill – creating chances – a particular forte. The youngest player ever to reach 50 Bundesliga games when he took to the field against Eintracht Frankfurt in April, Havertz has teed up 14 league goals to date, with a further three in European competition.
At 6”2’-tall, Havertz has a dash of steel to go with the obvious silk, too. Equally adept playing deep, high or wide, Havertz has the frame and all-round game of former Bayer man Michael Ballack, whilst his wand of a left-foot, and the doors he unlocks with it, are reminiscent of a prime Mesut Özil. A big Germany career beckons.
Watch: All of Havertz's Bundesliga goals and assists to date!
Key stat: 40 crosses from open play this season
Capped at every level for Germany since U16, Schulz was in the same age group as Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rüdiger from the U18s on. But while Rüdiger made his senior Germany bow in 2014, Schulz was late to the party, having to wait until September’s friendly with Peru to make his full international debut. He wasted little time in impressing, though, snatching the winner in a 2-1 victory in the familiar surroundings of the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Schulz is that rare combination of a player who can attack and defend with equal ease. Hugging the left-hand touchline in Julian Nagelsmann’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, the 25-year-old has averaged six winning challenges per game whilst still chipping in with 10 shots on the opposition goal this term. First-choice left-back Jonas Hector is an assured presence for Germany, but in Schulz, Die Mannschaft could well have the first genuine left wing-back since Christian Ziege on their hands.
Position: Centre forward
Key stat: Shot on goal every 30 mins
If Schulz took the tourist route to Germany’s senior international squad, Uth’s journey was positively nomadic. The Cologne native’s one and only youth outing with the national team came at U20 level back in 2010. The left-footed attacker was on his hometown team’s books at the time, but only really got his chance in Germany’s top-flight after a subsequent three-year spell in the Netherlands with Heerenveen and Heracles. Uth then proved his big-game credentials at Hoffenheim – three goals in three games against Bayern will do that – before moving to Schalke in the summer.
Domenico Tedesco and latterly Löw were convinced of the same thing: Uth adds a different dimension to a conventional attack. His ability to play between the lines makes him difficult to pick up, and if Havertz’s left-foot is a wand, Uth’s is more of the rocket launcher variety. Schalke fans worried that their forward might not repeat his 14-goal haul for Hoffenheim last season would do well to remember that Uth has has averaged three shots on target per game in 2018/19. Injury has ruled him out of Germany’s latest squad, but with the closest playing style to Lukas Podolski since, well, Lukas Podolski, Uth’s belated international career could yet be one to relish.