Sweden vs. Germany: Joachim Loew Will Showcase Quality in Depth
It's often said that the best teams at club and international level could put out a second string side that would also be capable of competing, and with Germany's qualification confirmed coach Joachim Loew may put such theories to the test.
Die Mannschaft's first-choice starting 11 currently features Manuel Neuer in goal, a defence of Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Jerome Boateng and Marcel Schmelzer, with Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield. In attack Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose are preferred.
However, this selection leaves out such talents as Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Lars and Sven Bender, Mario Goetze, Rene Adler, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and many other players who would be key players for other nations.
When it comes to tournament play, such strength in depth can be vital for countries seeking to overcome the wear and tear of such an intense period of games.
Losing your key playmaker to a calf strain is easier to cope with when you have two or three ready and willing deputies to slot in, while the plethora of options and alternatives ensure that standards are kept high through competition for places.
It is this ability, along with their excitingly direct style of play, that has led many to tip Germany to be the team that will eventually end Spain's dominance over the international scene, although so far they have fallen some way short of achieving this goal.
Loew is unlikely to field a fully reconfigured lineup, having told the press, per Sky Sports:
It's not going to be eight positions because it's important that we maintain a certain rhythm now, but I think I will test in the next three games - Tuesday and the two in November.
Sweden still need a point to be one of the top four second-placed sides, who are seeded (for the play-offs), and we go into the game wanting to win. We have won eight out of nine and now we want to win the 10th game so we do have motivation.
Yet Borussia Moenchengladbach's talented striker Max Kruse is expected to feature, along with Kroos and Goetze, who may be limited to a cameo from the bench.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended, depriving an otherwise average Sweden team of their most dangerous asset, allowing Germany to mix things up if they so wish.
Whether Loew's team will be a major threat in Brazil depends greatly on how their fast and athletic game translates to the Brazilian climate, but in terms of individuals, talent and team spirit they could be all set to surge into the latter stages.
Due to their shortfall against expectations in recent tournaments, Germany had begun to be tagged as a squad lacking the required winning mentality and mental strength to fulfil their potential, ignoring the supremacy of Spain and on-par excellence of teams such as Cesare Prandelli's Italy.
In Bayern Munich's Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Schweinsteiger and Mueller however, Die Mannschaft could hardly ask for a spine with a greater pedigree when it comes to proven champions. The confidence and assertiveness by which they are now settling into their new-found dominance under Pep Guardiola is also a positive for Germany.
Are Germany contenders for Brazil 2014?
Having players comfortable with being in control and on top of opponents isn't something to be taken for granted, as evidenced by the nervy lack of authority shown by sides such as England when they find themselves in the ascendancy midway through a game.
With a treble-winning cadre from Bayern and one of the most extensive talent pools in world football to draw upon, Germany may finally be able to justify the hype once summer and the 2014 World Cup roll around.
Until then, all eyes will be on how Loew manages his various and pleasant selection headaches while keeping all of his total squad members happy and motivated.
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