Former Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso believes Germany will be one of the teams to beat at this summer's FIFA World Cup, while current Bayern string-puller Thiago Alcantara knows he will have to stop many of his Bundesliga rivals if he is to emerge triumphant with Spain this summer.
Alonso lifted the World Cup in 2010, sandwiched in between European Championship triumphs in 2008 and 2012, and with three Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues to his name, the 36-year-old certainly knows what it takes to be successful.
Speaking to FIFA.com ahead of the World Cup, he admitted that Joachim Löw's men – after his own country – are ones to watch out for in Russia.
"I'm not just saying it, but I would put [Spain] among the favourites because I don't see any side that's better than Spain right now," he said. "I don’t know what’s going to happen in the games though. Germany are another of the big favourites. They're a very strong side and they're always there or thereabouts."
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Alonso saw first hand the number of exciting new prospects emerging through the Bundesliga in recent years and he feels that while the likes of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Per Merteseacker may no longer be around, Germany have succeeded in replacing them adequately, while also reducing the average age of the squad.
"The way they've been playing, it would be a massive surprise if they don't make the semis, because they're the champions and because of the new generation who've come into the team," he said, adding that "Brazil are also right in there – I think those three are above the rest. Then there's Argentina, France and maybe a surprise or two. Why not?"
Spain's hopes will be pinned on the shoulders of Bayern midfielder Thiago, who says he is ready to fill an important role on the field for his country in Russia – one he has honed in the Bundesliga, right at the heart of the action.
"It's a role I'm prepared for because I've played in it with Bayern," Thiago said. "Of course it's an important position for the organisation of the team and I hope to fill it well. We are a side who like to keep the ball, like to press, move around and we enjoy playing the way we play – we would love to get this World Cup started tomorrow."
Germany and Spain could meet at the earliest in the semi-finals.