10 Reasons Why Germany Will Defend World Cup Successfully in 2018
Germany emerged victorious from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, their first triumph as a unified nation and since they won as West Germany at Italia '90.
It marks a major success to the revamping of the international team game from when Jurgen Klinsmann was in charge, with his then-assistant Jogi Low since stepping up to emerge as boss as he led the team to glory.
The next World Cup takes place in Russia in 2018, and there are plenty of reasons to suggest that Germany can retain their trophy when that tournament rolls around.
Let's take a look at 10 reasons why Germany will defend their World Cup title.
Starting with the current team and working our way from the back, we can begin by saying that Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world, bar none.
Dominant aerially, exceptional in his distribution and a great organiser, he combines every modern trait of goalkeeping with an imperious ability to do the basics: make saves, make life difficult for forwards and take the ball high and early.
He'll only be 32 when the next World Cup arrives, still a fine age for a keeper, and he'll have plenty of promising youngsters behind him, too.
Rock-Solid Back Line
Germany's defence was largely solid and reliable, aside from a difficult game against Algeria, who exploited the high line. The ages of those involved this time around mean they'll be prime candidates to continue their international game in Russia.
Benedikt Howedes is 26, and Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are both 25. They'll all be experienced come Russia 2018, but still plenty young enough to be heavily involved.
Only Philipp Lahm might be replaced by that time as he'll be 34, but it isn't even out of the question that he could be involved. Shkodran Mustafi and Erik Durm are two youngsters with plenty of promise who can also be far more involved over the coming tournaments.
Vast Potential in Midfield Replacements
The centre of midfield was an area of great capacity, technical ability and tactical dominance for Germany, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira in particular both superb throughout.
Those two will be potentially in need of replacing by the Russia World Cup, though—especially the former, who will be 33 and who plays a demanding role.
Luckily for Germany, they have an abundance of talent in this area who missed out through injury this time. There's Lars Bender in particular, but also brother Sven and his BVB teammate Ilkay Gundogan, should he recover sufficiently from his back trouble.
All the Young, Attacking Midfield Talent in the World
Germany's ability to attack at pace and have terrific movement and interplay in the final third is borne of the technical and mental excellence that the attacking midfielders have.
Mesut Ozil thrives when runners are moving off him, Toni Kroos dictates play perfectly from the No. 10 role and Thomas Muller offers movement, finishing and buildup play-support befitting one of the finest wide forwards in the game.
Together they offer a great blend of talents, ably supported by that aforementioned midfield—and they also have the likes of Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Julian Draxler and others to offer additional pace, width and goal threat—whatever is required in any game situation. Every one of those players will be 29 or under even in another four years, perfectly placing them to hit Russia 2018 at their peaks.
As if that plethora of attacking talent wasn't enough, arguably Germany's best supporting forward—certainly the most in-form ahead of the 2014 World Cup—didn't even travel to Brazil.
Marco Reus picked up an injury before the tournament, forcing him out, but adds a tremendous amount to the side.
Dribbling ability, one-touch play, movement off the ball, pace and ever-improving finishing in the box; Reus has the lot and at 25 years of age, he will be hitting his peak soon enough.
Low Should Stay, but Tactical Plan Can Continue Even If He Doesn't
Jogi Low was seemingly under a little pressure going into the World Cup, but being the first European team to win the tournament on South American soil is a pretty good way to answer those questions.
There have been no indications that he might be relinquishing his role any time soon, and he seems the perfect fit to guide this side into the next European Championships and beyond.
Even if he does depart before Russia 2018, though, Germany's game-plan is founded over the longer period, and an incoming manager would naturally be expected to pick up where Low leaves off; the tactics are not revolutionary, simply very well put into place by supremely capable coaches and excellent players.
It all gives Germany the chance to enter a period of domination if they retain their hunger and levels of ability, fitness and form.
Fantastic Mentality and Players Used to Winning
Of course, winning the title and retaining it are very different things: Immediately the victor becomes a huge scalp for other teams, a big fish to take down whenever the chance arises.
It takes plenty of bottle and self-belief to stand up to that test—but the German side appears born to win.
The Bayern Munich contingent, featuring Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, have won trophy after trophy of late, proving themselves well capable of overcoming adversity and remaining hungry for future success.
They can continue the trend, but they can also pass it on to the next generation of German internationals who come through.
The Poland Friendly Retinue
Just prior to the World Cup, Germany played a friendly match against Poland, not featuring most of their major players who were on Cup final duty.
What Low got to see there was a host of promising teens and 20-somethings who will be eager to continue their progress over the coming seasons and be a part of Germany's squad looking at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer, Andre Hahn, Kevin Volland, Max Arnold, Christian Gunter, Seb Jung, Antonio Rudiger and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were all in that group and, Jung aside, none are over the age of 22.
Miroslav Klose was the sole striker option for Germany at World Cup 2014, and having made history by becoming the highest-ever scorer at the finals, he will take his leave from the World Cup scene aged 36.
There aren't an abundance of No. 9's coming behind him, but Mario Gomez—who missed the finals after not recovering sufficiently from injury—will still be an option for the next World Cup, though as a veteran 33-year-old. He has a good international strike rate and will be one possible forward option; as Klose himself has shown, an experienced striker to play half a game or 70-odd minutes at the finals is no bad thing.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga will be another hoping to maintain good form and win a first senior cap sooner or later, while Volland is another young option, though a different type of forward.
No Other Particular Emerging Super-Power at This Point
Germany perhaps won this World Cup by being the best, or perhaps by being the best prepared, or perhaps by getting a little luck at the right time. Or perhaps by all three, and more besides.
Plainly, there was not one standout international team over the course of the World Cup, and it was largely anybody's to win for a time; Argentina, Netherlands, France, Colombia—they all had their own strengths, but also weaknesses.
There is no great emerging power in international football right now; it is well-matched across the board to an extent. Those who put into place plans now to help achieve relative success in Russia in four years will be well-placed to lift the World Cup then—and Germany have already shown they are as good as anybody at constructing, and following through on, a blueprint for success.