Predicting Joachim Low's Germany World Cup Squad

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 09:  In this handout image provided by UEFA, Coach Joachim Low of Germany faces the media during a press conference after the UEFA EURO 2012 Group B match between Germany and Portugal on June 9, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine.  (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

With Italy once again troubling the minds of German football fans across the country and continent alike, the topic of next year's World Cup has been pushed back from the forefront of the sport's current debate. 

Yet with the Italians on Friday night and then a glamour trip to London to face England at Wembley the following Tuesday, Die Mannschaft will be put under the microscope by critics and the Bundestrainer himself, Joachim Low, to see just how well one of the favourites for the coming tournament are getting on.

As such, we thought it would be worthwhile to consider and debate just how Germany may look next year when they travel to Brazil with every intention of making history as the first European country to win the World Cup in South America. 

Next summer may be a wee while yet, but the problems that Low faces in defence are really a worry for the coach right now. Where once a centre-back partnership between Holger Badstuber and Mats Hummels seemed like a diplomatic and long-term dream, the Germany coach is now faced with three defenders in Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker and Hummels, who all seem quite comfortable in their ability to swoon in and out of form.

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Even still, Mertesacker's rise to fame at Arsenal at the expense of Thomas Vermaelen has not gone unnoticed, and unless we see a biblical change in form from Hummels, it's probably quite safe to say that the two central positions are Mertesacker's and Boateng's to lose at the time being. 

Fortunately, things become a little clearer at full-back, where Philipp Lahm and Marcel Schmelzer are more than likely to keep their spots from now until the World Cup tournament. Marcell Jansen, the former Bayern left-back who now plays at Hamburg, has been given a good run in the team as of late, but that's probably just a case of Low exercising his plan B. Bayern on the right and Dortmund on the left certainly looks set to be his plan A. 

More headaches follow when we move in to Germany's midfield, as Low finds himself engulfed in talent from all sides. 

The primary debate will, of course, be who exactly gets to start alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in the centre of midfield. Unlike at Bayern, where Pep Guardiola and Jupp Heynckes before him opted to play with a central three, Low usually prefers to commit more men forward and usually leaves the Bayern playmaker at the back with either Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos or on occasion Ilkay Gundogan. 

It's these three players who should eat up the majority of column inches in the German press leading up to the tournament, as all three offer a perfectly capable partner in crime to Schweinsteiger but vary in each of their games. 

Khedira is the obvious favourite considering his long-standing run in the national side in this very position, including a very successful Euro 2012, yet Low will feel the need to fit Kroos into his team somehow, as his importance at Bayern grows by the day. 

The final option is Dortmund's new boy wonder, Gundogan, who has yet to sink his teeth into the new season as he sits impatiently on Jurgen Klopp's injury table. Have no doubt that between now and next June, the tricky central midfielder will be back on the lips of every German fan. 

In an ideal world, most purists of the national side would appreciate the notion of Schweinsteiger and Gundogan side by side, as we have seen on select few occasions, but whether the rising star has done enough to pull up the foundations Low has planted in this midfield is another matter entirely. 

The next part of the side is the front three who sit in front of the midfield duo and behind the solitary forward. 

Low has been smart to experiment with as many players as he can in these three positions, yet there are a select few attacking midfielders who should be confident of starting come the World Cup. 

Marco Reus is probably right to consider himself a shoo-in for the left-hand side, despite Andre Schurrle's recent success in the position, while Arsenal's Mesut Ozil has always commanded the central position of No. 10. Similarly, the right-hand side is likely to either go to Thomas Muller or Toni Kroos, considering the opposition and how the side line up elsewhere on the pitch. 

Muller's role in particular will be determined by the manner in which Low handles the striker position next year, as his favoured goalscorer, Miroslav Klose, will undoubtedly be too old to rely on for the entire competition. 

This is where Mario Gotze would step into the fold. The Dortmund-turned-Bavarian prodigy has been used in a number of positions by both Low and Guardiola over the past 12 months, and it's the national team coach in particular who likes the idea of the tiny assassin as his leading forward. This would leave Germany with something of a striker-less formation. 

Of course, a million factors can change between now and next summer, yet these 10 outfield positions, however well they are contested, should remain relatively familiar to the Germany side that we've just seen win their qualifying group at a canter. It's consistency and the chemistry between these select few players that Low will value above all else in hopes of winning the greatest prize of all.