This summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia was always seen as a warm-up for next year’s big event, and Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw has not disappointed with an experienced but talented 23-man squad. All of the big names are rested, and a number of players have been rewarded for an excellent domestic season. While the majority of the new faces come from the long and now well-established talent factory, there are a couple of older faces among the Neulings too.
Big names rested
We all knew that new captain Manuel Neuer was out of contention after picking up an injury at the tail end of the season and that Benedikt Höwedes and Julian Weigl were also going to miss out, and Marco Reus also ruled himself out after another injury-plagued year. As the coach looks forward to the World Cup and the planning gets underway, the likes of Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller and Mesut Özil are all given a chance to sit back, recharge their batteries and relax over the summer.
The injection of new blood sees Paris Saint-Germain ‘keeper Kevin Trapp make his way into a tournament squad for the first time, while among the eight defensive players is twenty-five year old Marvin Plattenhardt, who has been part of a successful Hertha BSC side.
Hoffenheim to the fore
High-flyers TSG Hoffenheim’s excellent season and qualification for the UEFA Champions league sees them as the most represented team in the squad, with four players. Joining the already capped FC Bayern-bound pair Sebastian Rudy (14) and Niklas Süle (1) are midfielder Kerem Demirbay and striker Sandro Wagner.
Both Demirbay and Wagner provide interesting back stories. Twenty-three year old Herten-born Demirbay had looked had all set to play for Turkey after rising through the ranks of their youth teams, but has opted to play for the Mannschaft at senior level. Wagner meanwhile will be remembered for his being part of the the winning Under-21 Euros squad in 2009, many of whom got their break in the 2010 World Cup before going on to become established stars.
In 2009, a talented young German team beat England 4-0 in the final, with Wagner scoring a brace. Alongside him on that day were Neuer, Boateng, Höwedes, Hummels, Khedira and Özil, all of whom would go on to become World Cup winners in Brazil five years later. It didn’t quite work out for Wagner, with a drop in form taking him on the journeyman’s path. However, and excellent season at SV Darmstadt 98 in 2015/16 followed by an even better one at Hoffenheim this year has finally reaped its rewards.
Three players, three different paths
Also new to the international setup are RB Leipzig midfielder Diego Demme, Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Lars Stindl, and talented young winger Amin Younes, now plying his trade in the Dutch Eredivisie with UEFA Cup finalists Ajax Amsterdam.
Again, there are three different backgrounds. Twenty-five year old Demme is completely new to international football, making the breakthrough with high-flying Bundesliga new boys Leipzig after a low-key start to his career with Arminia Bielefeld and SC Paderborn 07. Stindl on the other hand was a rising young talent who disappeared into journeyman obscurity with Karlsruhe SC and Hannover 96, before rekindling his career at Gladbach. Having won four caps at Under-20 and Under-21 level between 2007 and 2009, his recall to the international fold is richly deserved.
Younes meanwhile is one of the pure products of the talent factory. His progression has been closely watched by many, and he has worn the Nationaltrikot at every level since his first appearance for the Under-16 team in 2008/09. His decision to leave Germany for the Netherlands has proved to be a good one, and while he is yet to make an appearance at senior level he has built up solid tournament experience. Of all the uncapped players, he is arguably the best bet to be in the running for a place in next year’s World Cup squad.
An experienced core
In addition to the half dozen Neulings, three others have only one cap while only six have more than ten. The most experienced member of the squad is Julian Draxler with twenty-seven. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is likely to be given the captain’s armband, but this will not be a new experience as he has already led the senior eleven out before in the friendly against Poland in Hamburg in 2014.
Draxler is one of only three World Cup winners in the 2017 squad, alongside defenders Shkodran Mustafi (15 caps) and Matthias Ginter (9 caps).
The balancing act
With the German Under-21 squad also in tournament action at the Euros in Poland, picking the squad for the Confederations Cup has been a bit of a balancing act. It explains why the likes of Serge Gnabry, Jonathan Tah, Maxi Arnold and Max Meyer will not be in Russia with the senior side. It will be the perfect opportunity for Jogi Löw and Under-21 coach Stefan Kuntz to compare notes, with the aim of building the perfect mix of youth and experience to retain the world title next year. Well, that’s the plan!
Germany play their first match of the tournament against Asian champions Australia on June 19 in Sochi. They then go on to face Copa America winners Chile in Kazan, before returning to Sochi to face African champions Cameroon.
Bernd Leno (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 4/0)
Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, 9/0)
Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain, 0/0)
Matthias Ginter (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 9/0)
Jonas Hector (1. FC Köln, 27/3)
Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1/0)
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München, 13/1)
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal FC, 15/1)
Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha BSC, 0/0)
Antonio Rüdiger (AS Roma, 12/0)
Niklas Süle (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 1/0)
Julian Brandt (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 5/0)
Emre Can (Liverpool FC, 8/0)
Kerem Demirbay (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 0/0)
Diego Demme (RB Leipzig, 0/0)
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain, 28/3)
Leon Goretzka (FC Schalke 04, 3/0)
Sebastian Rudy (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 14/0)
Leroy Sané (Manchester City, 6/0)
Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 0/0)
Sandro Wagner (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 0/0)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, 1/0)
Amin Younes (Ajax Amsterdam, 0/0)