It was a glorious summer for German football, with Stefan Kuntz’s Under-21 team winning the European Championship, and the experimental squad securing a first Confederations Cup victory in Russia. After close to two months of international football starvation, we are back in action as the World Cup qualifying campaign cranks into life again.
There are no meaningless friendlies to warm up to, and Joachim Löw’s men are straight into competition with two matches in the space of four days. The first of this double header on 1st September takes the Mannschaft across the border to the Czech Republic, and three days later Norway pay a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart.
Two wins from the two matches should take Germany to the brink of qualification. With all of the teams in Group C having played six matches, Jogi’s Jungs sit pretty with a perfect record, five points clear of second-placed Northern Ireland.
Germany have a solid record against both of these opponents, and recorded fairly easy victories early in the campaign. The Norwegians were overcome 3-0 in Oslo what was the first competitive international between the two countries for over half a century, while an insipid-looking Czech outfit were dispatched by the same scoreline in Hamburg.
A feature in both matches was Thomas Müller, who netted a brace of braces. After what has been a poor 2017 by his usual high standards, the FC Bayern München star will be looking to pick up where he left off as he looks forward to a third World Cup.
The coach has kept faith with a number of the players who featured in the winning Confed Cup squad, with no fewer than seventeen of them in the twenty-four man Kader. New FC Bayern signing and TSG Hoffenheim loanee Serge Gnabry is the only member of the winning Under-21 squad who makes the list, along with six returning senior pros: Mats Hummels, Mario Gómez, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil and Müller.
Those missing out: Kerem Demirbay, Diego Demme, Shkodran Mustafi, Marvin Plattenhardt and Sandro Wagner.
Ongoing injury problems mean that there is no return for skipper Manuel Neuer or centre-back Jérôme Boateng, but there is a good-looking balance to the squad. As the road to Russia next summer gets shorter, the Nationaltrainer will be sure to experiment fully and mess around with the many options at his disposal.
The key, of course, is to keep the points ticking over.
Bernd Leno (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 5/0)
Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona, 14/0)
Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain, 1/0)
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 14/0)
Jonas Hector (1. FC Köln, 33/3)
Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 3/0)
Mats Hummels (FC Bayern München, 57/4)
Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern München, 20/2)
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea FC, 17/0)
Niklas Süle (FC Bayern München, 6/0)
Julian Brandt (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 10/1)
Emre Can (Liverpool FC, 15/0)
Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain, 35/5)
Serge Gnabry (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, 2/3)
Mario Gómez (VfL Wolfsburg, 70/30)
Leon Goretzka (FC Schalke 04, 9/3)
Sami Khedira (Juventus Turin, 70/7)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF, 76/12)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 85/37)
Mesut Özil (Arsenal FC, 84/21)
Sebastian Rudy (FC Bayern München, 20/0)
Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 6/3)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, 6/3)
Amin Younes (Ajax Amsterdam, 4/2)