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Squad Preview: Germany men’s national team for the 2022 World Cup

Locks, bubble players, and dark horses in Hansi’s crew.

Hansi Flick grasps the ball with both hands as he looks on intently during the June 14 match against Italy
Eye on the ball, Herr Flick!
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Germany national team coach Hansi Flick has twenty-six spaces to fill for his roster for this year’s Men’s World Cup in December. Normally, they would already be playing by now, but the winter tournament means there’s a lot of dust left to settle – two more Nations League fixtures in September, and all of the Bundesliga Hinrunde. Here’s an early snapshot as things stand.

Twenty-six is three more spots than previous World Cups; it matches last year’s European Championship. This time around, all players make the Matchday roster, with five allowed substitutions instead of three.

Previously, we looked at tactics and key positional battles. Now let’s take an early stab at squad selection.

The locks (and near-locks)

We’ll start with a two-deep for each outfield position. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund feature:

GK Manuel Neuer (Bayern) Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona)
LB David Raum (RB Leipzig) Robin Gosens (Inter)
CB Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid) Nico Schlotterbeck (Dortmund)
CB Niklas Süle (Dortmund) Mats Hummels (Dortmund)
RB Lukas Klostermann (Leipzig) Thilo Kehrer (PSG)
DM Joshua Kimmich (Bayern) Anton Stach (Mainz 05)
CM İlkay Gündoğan (Man City) Leon Goretzka (Bayern)
LM Jamal Musiala (Bayern) Leroy Sané (Bayern)
AM Thomas Müller (Bayern) Marco Reus (Dortmund)
RW Jonas Hofmann (Gladbach) Serge Gnabry (Bayern)
FW Timo Werner (Chelsea) Kai Havertz (Chelsea)
  • Gosens has played sparingly while returning from injury for Inter Milan. If he recovers his sterling 2019-21 form, the attacking left-back should be an easy call.
  • Hummels has been away from the national team while managing a persistent patellar issue. He still has elite distribution and would round out a BVB defensive contingent. One last hurrah? If not, Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen) seems favored.
  • Stach broke through last season, his first in the Bundesliga. Flick seems to be planning with him, but he’ll need to keep taking steps forward.
  • Reus, like Hummels, has needed to manage his health. After skipping last year’s EURO, Reus was injured for all four Nations League matches in June. However, he’s one of Germany’s most gifted and lethal attackers – and one who can finish.
  • Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp should battle Arsenal’s soon-to-depart Bernd Leno in an uneventful bid for the third GK gig.

The bubble

A reasonable guess for how Germany might choose to use the three flex spots to round out their roster:

  1. An attacking RB. Thilo Kehrer is a swiss knife across the backline; he can move to left-back and flip the asymmetry. VfL Wolfsburg’s Ridle Baku has been frozen out since last fall, somewhat inexplicably. RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs hasn’t completely shone in his place.
  2. A more traditional no. 9: The search continues with no clear-cut fit. Wolfsburg’s Lukas Nmecha has the inside track for now. Monaco forward Kevin Volland is still around and will look to get a chance to play something other than wingback for the NT. If Flick can just find a Mario Gomez approximate, perhaps he takes that?

The third spot is wide open. An extra defender who can also play DM, like Robin Koch (Leeds United) or Emre Can (Dortmund), who were at last year’s EURO. An experienced attacker, like Julian Draxler (PSG) or Julian Brandt (Dortmund). Or a pacey young forward like Karim Adeyemi (Dortmund) on his way to a Bundesliga adventure. Flick will adjust the balance of his squad by deciding where to apply the extra fortifications.

If I had to name three now? Baku, Nmecha, Brandt. A smooth and technical creator, Brandt’s finding his way for BVB (9 goals, 10 assists). His cameo against Hungary was brief but assured. He can play CM, AM, and wing.

Dark horses?

One under-the-radar name to monitor this fall: Mainz 05’s Jonathan Burkardt. Yet to earn a senior call-up, the energetic forward and U-21s captain broke out with eleven goals last season and will be just 22 years of age. Bayern might also observe that his contract expires in 2024.

Elsewhere, Mario Götze is returning to the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt. The 2014 World Cup hero’s return would be a comeback story for the ages.

Who you got? Let us know in the comments below!

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