Ahead of their opening World Cup game against Portugal on Monday, Germany have been given a major fitness boost with the return of Manuel Neuer to training.
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper had been suffering with a shoulder injury, picked up in the club’s German Cup victory over Borussia Dortmund in May, but now appears ready to start for Joachim Low’s side in Salvador.
The team’s first-choice for the past four years, he has steadily built a reputation as one of the best keepers in world football with his sharp reflexes and shot-stopping prowess, while proving pivotal to Bayern’s recent back-to-back Bundesliga titles and 2012-13 treble-winning campaign.
There were also positives elsewhere for Germany, with Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira having figured in the side’s past two friendlies, showing no ill effects from the damaged knee ligaments which had previously side-lined him for much of the final six months of the season.
The team certainly needed some good news on the fitness front, after Dortmund winger Marco Reus suffered a partial tear of his left ankle ligament in the final warm-up game against Armenia, ruling the 25-year-old out of the tournament and leaving some uncertainty surrounding their starting lineup.
With further matches against Ghana and the USA, Germany will be confident of progressing to the last 16 regardless, though the fact all their group games are staged in the north of the country, where the weather will be hot and humid, could leave them more drained than others entering the knockout stages.
Nevertheless, with stars like Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos at their disposal, they remain one of the more fancied teams in Brazil, though Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will certainly be a testing first opponent.