1. The negative expectations
The mood in Germany has changed. Four years ago, nobody expected anything from the young German national team, especially after Michael Ballack’s injury shortly before the tournament started. But then the third-place finish in South Africa with convincing victories against England and Argentina surprised everybody. Germany played attractive football, and Joachim Low was hugely popular in the country.
However, Germany failed to clinch the European Championship in 2012 and have gone four major international tournaments without winning any, despite making it at least to the semi-finals. The German fans are now starting to lose hope - only 25% of the people believe that they will win the World Cup.
2. The squad
Low included a number of unfit and injured players like Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm. All of them are key players and the German national coach made it clear that they will be essential for his ambitions at the tournament. However, it is hugely doubtful whether these players can play an important role with their lack of fitness and the hot climate in Brazil.
The 54-year-old Low could have tested fit players during the season, as the likes of Khedira and Schweinsteiger were injured for most of the campaign. Instead he hoped that they would become fit for the tournament.
3. The missing strikers
Miroslav Klose, who has just turned 36, is the only recognised striker for Germany at the World Cup. It looks as if Low wants to play with a ‘false number nine’ like Barcelona and Spain have done - too bad that Germany do not have a player like Lionel Messi to make that strategy work. The first option would have been Marco Reus, but the best player of the last Bundesliga season got injured and therefore won’t be able to play at the World Cup.
If Germany are 1-0 down after 85 minutes, then they could probably use a player who is strong in the opposition’s box and on aerial duels. Players like Stefan Kiessling, Mario Gomez, Kevin Volland and Max Kruse have those attributes, but all of them were snubbed by Low.
4. The experiments
Low had two years to experiment and form a good and well-rehearsed team for the World Cup, but he missed out on that. During the last couple of weeks, he let young and talented players, who have played just a couple of Bundesliga matches, make their debuts. The World Cup squad comprises of players like Christoph Kramer of Borussia Monchengladbach, Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter and Erik Durm of Borussia Dortmund, who have hardly any Bundesliga or international experience. Of course it is a good idea to test new players, but why didn’t Low wait for that after the World Cup?
5. The history
Germany won their three World Cups in Europe: 1954 in Switzerland, 1974 in Germany and 1990 in Italy. Die Mannschaft never did that well in the USA, although they finished runners-up in 1986 in Mexico and third in 1970 in Brazil. Considering the fact that five key players have been injured recently and therefore won’t be really fit for the matches, it does not seem that this team will be able to change history in Brazil.