Germany take on Portugal this evening in Brazil for both European giants’ opening clash of the World Cup but who makes the combined starting XI? One Arsenal star is the sole Premier League representative.
GK – Manuel Neuer
The 28-year-old German stopper is one of the best in the world without a shadow of a doubt. In the past two seasons he has won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League with Bayern Munich and has kept 5 clean sheets in his last 10 appearances for Germany in competitive matches.
RB – Philipp Lahm
The Germany captain has been the best fullback on the planet for the last five years, maybe more. He has played across the backline and even in midfield in recent months but wherever he plays, he has to be in the team. At 30 years of age he combines experience, quality and leadership in abundance.
CB – Mats Hummels
The 25-year-old Borussia Dortmund centre back is one of the most reliable and combative on the continent. He has won the Bundesliga title in 2012 and played in the Champions League final the following year and is at the peak of his powers with Germany for whom he is undoubtedly the best central defender.
CB – Bruno Alves
It is a tough call between the Fenerbahce centre back and his Real Madrid counterpart Pepe but the latter is injured presently. Bruno The 32-year-old was one of Portugal’s finest enforcers whilst at Porto where he spent 11 years and this will likely be his last tournament.
LB – Fabio Coentrao
Real Madrid left-back Coentrao won the Champions League this term and his link-up play with some of the best midfield talent in the world has been ever-present in La Liga. Now 26 years of age, he is at his peak and could well hit his stride in the World Cup.
DM – Sami Khedira
Portugal youngster William Carvalho is certainly a presence protecting the backline but the 22-year-old doesn’t yet have the composure or tactical awareness of yet another Real Madrid star in Sami Khedira.
CM – Bastian Schweinsteiger
Another Bayern Munich stalwart, the 29-year-old central midfielder is one of the best in the world, at the ideal age for this tournament and represents the more experienced options for the Germans in midfield where he is a dominant and powerful presence.
RW – Thomas Muller
The flexibility of the 24-year-old forward has been to his advantage with the Bavarians this term – he has functioned as a ‘false 9’ as well as a winger and there is little doubt he is one of the most dangerous and technically gifted forwards in the world.
LW – Toni Kroos
Likewise, Muller’s compatriot is the envy of many of Europe’s elite this summer after a superb season in the Bundesliga and he shows no signs of slowing down. He combines flair, intelligence, vision, creativity and exceptional stamina – you can’t take your eyes off him for one moment.
AM – Mesut Ozil
The Arsenal newcomer endured a difficult first term in England but there is little doubt the former Real Madrid playmaker is capable of being the most creative and majestic providers in the world at his best.
FW - Cristiano Ronaldo
Finally – no surprises – the Ballon d’Or winner and one of the two greatest players in the world right now. The 29-year-old has won everything there is to win at club level but has yet to prove himself a world-beater on the world-stage but this could very well be his time.