16-June Portugal (6pm GMT Salvador)
21-June Ghana (8pm GMT Fortaleza)
26-June USA (5pm GMT Recife)
Having cruised to the tournament with an unbeaten qualification campaign, expectations are high for Germany. Alex Mott looks at Die Mannschaft’s chances in Brazil.
Coach: Joachim Low
Joachim Low has been involved with the German national team for a decade now, having assisted Jurgen Klinsmann between 2004 and 2006, before taking full charge after the home World Cup that year. The former attacking midfielder has since guided Die Mannschaft to every tournament with an almost impeccable qualification record – eventually falling in the Final at Euro 2008 and the semi-finals at World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.
Why they could be dangerous
With a host of Bayern Munich players acting as the backbone to this German side, expectations are for the national team to go all the way in Brazil this summer. Pep Guardiola’s men have established themselves as arguably the best club side in Europe this term, so with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer playing senior roles, Joachim Low’s outfit can confidently go into the tournament with a sense of excitement.
The world on his shoulders: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger comes into the World Cup fresh off the back of one the greatest two-year periods a club midfielder has arguably ever had. European success has been followed by some record-breaking domestic dominance, with Bayern Munich Coach Pep Guardiola taking his game to another level. At the base of Germany’s midfield, the 29-year-old has big-game experience, maturity and all the ability to dominant this tournament like no other player.
Did you know?
Since a reunited Germany entered the football world for USA ’94, Die Mannschaft have never failed to make at least the quarter-finals. In fact, the last time they didn’t get out of the group at all was all the way back in 1938. Death, taxes and Germany’s late appearance at a World Cup are three things you can absolutely count on.
Country legend: Franz Beckenbauer
Perhaps the greatest German footballer of all-time. And some may say the greatest defender of all-time. Franz Beckenbauer essentially invented the sweeper role and captained West Germany to the World Cup trophy in 1974, beating the great ‘Total Football’ Netherlands side in the Final. He played 103 times before retirement in 1977, but went on to Coach the national team and became the first man ever to win the World Cup as a player and a manager, leading Die Mannschaft to the Italia ’90 title.
The 4-2-3-1 formation Germany will play at the World Cup is set in stone, having fielded it throughout the qualification process. A central defensive partnership of Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker will almost certainly start, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos at the base of midfield. Barring injuries or a dramatic loss of form Andre Schurrle, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller will be in the attacking three, whilst veteran Miroslav Klose will probably lead the line.
…Portugal P9 W5 D3 L1 F14 A10
…Ghana P2 W2 D0 L0 F7 A1
…USA P9 W6 D0 L3 F21 A15
Population: 80.5 million
World Cup appearances: 17
Best finish: Winners in 1954, 1974, 1990
Famous for: Dominating international in the mid-1970s, topped by beating the Total Football Dutch side at the ’74 World Cup
Top Division: Bundesliga
How they got to the World Cup: Topped their qualification group by going the whole campaign unbeaten, dropping just two points
FIFA World Ranking: 2
Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – lost in the semi-final to eventual winners Spain
Continental Honours: Continental honours: 1954, 1974, 1990 World Cup winners and 1972, 1980, 1996 European Championship winners
Most Capped Player: Lothar Matthaus (150 caps)
Leading International Scorer: Gerd Muller, Miroslav Klose (68 goals)
Nickname: Die Mannschaft