Martin Meissner/Associated Press
For Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker and even Lukas Podolski, the 2014 World Cup is somewhat of an endgame. It will be the final World Cup during the prime years of each player and could indeed be the last of the career of any of the aforementioned.
However, even though these longstanding heroes of the national team are getting on in years, the German national team will remain a force to be reckoned with for years to come and in all likelihood will only get better in time.
Schweinsteiger peaked in 2010 and has dropped off in status since. Ilkay Gundogan, who achieved at age 22 more than Podolski had before 25, could soon replace him. Rising stars Emre Can, newly capped senior international Leon Goretzka, Levin Oztunali and Gedion Zelalem are all elite talents in the 1994-, 1995-, 1996- and 1997-born categories, respectively, and there undoubtedly will be more to follow.
Podolski may already be in the midst of being phased out, but Germany have at least half a dozen ready-made replacements on their way. These include Julian Draxler, Andre Schurrle and current starter Marco Reus. Beyond the more established players are 2011 under-17 European Championship best player and newly capped senior international Max Meyer, Julian Brandt and Timo Werner, just to name a few of the most elite talents.
Germany's current team consists primarily of players born between 1983 and 1990, a good spread of experience and youth. But now, among those born between 1990 and 1997, Die Mannschaft have well more than a full first XI of players who are already world-class or regarded among the best talents at their age level in all of world football.
Come 2016, 2018 and beyond, it's hard to see Germany moving anywhere but forward. And no matter how things go during the rest of Low's tenure, future coaches will have the current Bundestrainer to thank for laying the foundation for success.
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