Germany

Population: 80,500,000

Area: 357,022km²

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro

Federation: Deutscher Fussball Bund, founded April 7, 1919 – founding member of FIFA in 1904

Kit colours: White shirt, black shorts and white socks

Team nickname: Nationalmannschaft (National Team)

World Cup record: Winner (1954, 1974, 1990), finalist (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002), 3rd (1934, 1970, 2006), semi-finalist (1958), quarter-finalist (1962, 1994), last-16 (1938, 1998), second round (1978

European Championships appearances: 11 (1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012

European Championships record: winner (1972, 1980, 1996), finalist (1976, 1992, 2008), semi-finalist (1988, 2012), first round (1984, 2000, 2004

How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Won group C with 28pts ahead of Sweden (20), Austria (17), Ireland (14), Kazakhstan (5) and the Faroe Islands (1), 9 wins, 1 draw, 0 defeats, 36 goals for and 10 against

Top clubs: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04

A giant of the game with three World Cups and three European Champions titles Germany will once again be amongst the favourites as a swathe of talented stars add creativity to their traditional machinelike power game.

After going out at the semis in 2006 assistant Jogi Lowe took over from Jurgen Klinsman as coach and took them to the final of Euro 2008 and the semis at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro. His contract will be extended beyong Brazil.

With a fast- eye-pleasing game full of astonishing attacking passing many expect the success at club level of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to now happen also with the national team.

They have so much talent they could field two sides with the likes of Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Mario Gomez (Fiorentina), Marco Reus (Dortmund), Miroslav Klose (Lazio) and Andre Schürrle (Chelsea) all fighting for two or three places in the forward line.

Ozil, for the record, scored 8 times in 10 qualifiers.

Depending upon which type of team the Germans face target man Gomez, speed kings Reus and Schurrle, one-touch killer Klose and the all rounders Podolski and Muller can be used to their best effect.

Klose will be 36 out in Brazil where he needs two goals to overhaul Ronaldo (with 15 goals) as the all-time top scorer at World Cup finals, so this will make a fascinating subplot.

The Mannschaft, as the Germans call their national team, can also count on the monumental pair of Bayern Munich midfielder enforcer Bastian Schweinsteiger, and the vision and pace of Arsenal’s Mesut Özil.

Real’s Samir Khedira and three burgeoning younger talents Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze (both Bayern) and Julian Draxler (Schalke 04) will also stoke the fires in the German engine room.

If the team has a weakness it might be the defence, with even Lowe accepting that his backline could improve their game, especially when they don’t have possession.

Full-back Philipp Lahm can play on either flank and for his club often plays midfield while Jerome Boateng is also very solid, but if there is one area slightly bereft of option it is their defence, which leaked ten goals in ten qualifiers.

Their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is in that wonderful tradition of wall-like German ‘keepers that previously provided us with Oliver Kahn and Sepp Maier. Neuer really is a diamond, and his role will be crucial if Germany are to win their first World Cup since 1990.

AFP

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