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Die Mannschaft roster analysis part two: Attack and Midfield

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Who stays and who goes from a loaded attack and midfield group is one of those good problems to have, unless you are the man who has to make the final call: Joachim Löw.

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In part on, we examined the defense and goalkeeper corps that Joachim Löw would have to work through to devise his roster. In part two, we look at an overly crowded attack and midfield group that is loaded with talent.

Midfield / Attack

The midfield and attack positions are undoubtedly where Löw will have his toughest decisions. With so many high-level talents available, Löw will need to ensure whatever grouping he chooses has the proper cohesion for sustained success in Russia:

Thomas Müller: With the ability to play at the 10, 9, or 7, Müller is a vital cog in Löw’s attack. He’s a tremendous leader both on the field and in the locker room and has been productive as both a goal scorer and play maker in the 2017/2018 season. Müller is a bonafide starter and will be the straw that stirs the German drink. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

Toni Kroos: Another player who is a key figure in differentiating Germany from the field. Kroos is a world-class midfielder and figures to pay another prominent role in Die Mannschaft’s possession-based attack. His vision and ability to work cohesively with the players that will surround him arguably makes him Germany’s most valuable player. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Mesut Ozil: Ozil is another top-level player, who seemingly performs even better for Germany under Löw than he does for Arsenal, where he is among the best in the Premier League. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

Leroy Sané: Sané is a pure winger and has exploded as dynamic attacking force under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. We feel like Sané will be one of the players that Löw rotates in and out of the starting lineup, but will ultimately see more time as a starter. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

İlkay Gündoğan: Another Manchester City player, Gündoğan is a player who will likely float in and out of the starting lineup depending on match-ups. His position on the squad seems pretty solid and he is yet another player who can play the role of facilitator within the German framework. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Timo Werner: The dynamic RB Leipzig striker is Germany’s most explosive option at the “9” and should be the starter in what is amounting to the biggest positional battle on the roster with Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez. Werner is pure energy and has tremendous pace. Despite his relative inexperience at age 22, Werner is the best option for Germany to maintain a high pressure attack. Predicted Status: World Cup Starter.

Sandro Wagner: Wagner offers a different skill-set than Werner with his size and strength and deserves a spot on the Die Mannschaft roster. Wagner’s value is related to his ability to handle aerial balls and his ability to use his frame to give the German offense a different look. The yin-and-yang of Werner-Wagner should be a formidable striker duo for Löw. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Leon Goretzka: Goretzka is a strong box-to-box presence and a player who can both be used to bolster an offensive attack or defensive formation. He is the next generation of midfielder for Die Mannschaft and we think he is a lock to make the roster. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Emre Can: Can is rumored to be one of Low’s favorites, but he may not be a candidate for anything other than deep reserve. Can has his qualities, but Löw will ultimately have to choose between the like of Can, Goretzka, Stindl, Gomez, Rudy, and some other players not currently featured on the squad among others. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Julian Draxler: Draxler has had an up-and-down time with Paris Saint-Germain this season, but he seems to be a player that Löw gets the most out of. Draxler has positional versatility with his willingness to play as a wing, attacking midfielder, or central midfielder. That ability to contribute at all of those spots will ensure that Draxler has a role to play during the World Cup. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Mario Gomez: If there is any player who has made an effective last minute charge for a spot, it is the veteran Gomez. The VfB Stuttgart striker has just been tremendous of late and his experience, guile, and eye for the back of the net make him a formidable contender for the striker position. It may not be completely out of the realm of possibility for Löw to carry three strikers, but it would probably depend on where Löw wants to go thin. With so many versatile players at his disposal, Löw may be able to justify a third striker, even if many would considered it highly unconventional given the makeup of this roster. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Sami Khedira: At 30, Khedira is no longer a sure thing for inclusion on the squad, but could still be be a part of the team due to his experience. The Juventus man has not been in top form this season in Serie A and could be potentially be one of the players deemed expendable in the event Löw decides to bring in a player that is not currently rostered (Marco Reus?). Predicted Status: Questionable.

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Sebastian Rudy: The Bayern midfielder has had trouble finding playing time in Munich, but has performed exceptionally well under Löw. His physicality and grit are exceptional qualities to have on a roster like this, but Rudy is caught in a numbers game. His game play seems to elevate under Low, but unfortunately for him, the 28-year old may not have the chance to prove that once again. As a defensive midfielder, Rudy could certainly bolster a mostly-offensive minded group, but we are not sure he’ll be able to overcome the magnificent depth at midfield. Predicted Status: Doubtful.

Lars Stindl: The Borussia Monchengladbach man has been effective for the national team, but there may not be a clear role for him considering the depth and talent available. His ability to float between forward spots is valuable, but probably not needed considering the other players on the roster. Predicted Status: Doubtful.

Julian Brandt: Brandt has certainly had some excellent moments for Bayer Leverkusen this season, but it is hard to visualize him being part of the roster in June strictly because of the already booming talent and depth available. It is not a knock on Brandt’s ability or potential; just another case of Germany’s loaded talent pool. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Not Currently Rostered Midfield / Attack Candidates

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Marco Reus: Reus has been electric for Borussia Dortmund since returning from injury and offers the pace, skill, and offensive creativity that Löw would normally covet. Maybe Löw is offering Reus the chance for further rest by having him sit out during this international break or maybe Löw just doesn’t want to take a chance on a player who with Reus’ injury history. It would be incredibly hard to leave the type of talent that Reus has home from the World Cup, but it is conceivable that Löw thinks he has enough offensive talent to compensate for not having Reus. Predicted Status: World Cup Reserve.

Mario Götze: Götze, whose dramatic goal against Argentina in 2014 sealed the World Cup victory for Löw certainly may warrant some consideration, but his health has derailed a promising career. That said, Götze has played well of late for Dortmund (particularly when teamed with Reus and André Schürrle) and could inch closer to the roster if he can sustain that level of play over the next 2.5 months for BVB. Predicted Status: Doubtful.

André Schürrle: Like Götze, Schürrle has picked up his play of late, but also like Götze, it is likely too little, too late. Schürrle has a good offensive presence and the ability to both finish and play make, but it does not appear he will get that opportunity. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Julian Wiegl: Yet another Dortmund man that will find it difficult to break into this roster, despite his talent. The German central midfield is just too deep. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Max Meyer: The 22-year old Schalke 04 midfielder would warrant consideration for a roster spot for many other countries, but not on this loaded German side. Meyer has that versatility that Löw seems to love, but his position on this team would simply be redundant. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Amin Younes: Younes seems to be one of those players that Löw really has an affinity for, but this roster is too deep and talented to keep a spot for a player like Younes. The 24-year old Ajax forward just doesn’t have a spot on this team. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Serge Gnabry: Gnabry’s speed and offensive prowess would seem to be a fit, but we cannot see the Bayern-owned, Hoffenheim winger garnering enough interest for serious roster consideration. Predicted Status: Left Out.

Kerem Demirbay: Demirbay is another fine player in his own right, but not a player who warrants any serious consideration for a World Cup roster spot at this stage. Predicted Status: Left Out.


Summary

In our estimation, the following 17 players are a sure thing:

  • Goalkeepers (2): Neuer, Ter Stegen
  • Defense (5): Hummels, Boateng, Kimmich, Hector, Rudiger
  • Midfield/Attack (10): Müller, Kroos, Ozil, Sané, Gündoğan, Werner, Wagner, Goretzka, Draxler, Can

That leaves six (6) spots open for contention that we feel will go to the following players:

  • Goalkeepers (1): Leno
  • Defense (3): Süle, Ginter Plattenhardt
  • Midfield/Attack (2): Gomez, Reus

We also believe the following seven (9) players are on the “in-consideration” mix for Low:

  • Goalkeepers (2): Trapp, Ulreich
  • Defense (3): Max, Höwedes, Mustafi
  • Midfield/Attack (4): Khedira, Stindl, Rudy, Götze

It is embarrassment of riches for Löw and what his final decisions are remain to be seen. It won’t be easy and it will likely damage some of his relationships with the shunned players, but there is not much reason to doubt that he will make the proper decisions to put Germany in a position to secure another World Cup.