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IT’S A KNOCKOUT

  • Date:5th April 2018
  • Words:Ben Brown

The Germans. They’re always there. “Isn’t all that this German side, is it?” Semi-final. “Who are their star players?” Final. “Can’t see the Germans doing much to be honest, not without Reus.” Beat the home nation 7-1, winners.

Eventually, you learn not to underestimate them: no matter their lineup, good form or poor, Germany are a shoe-in for at least the knockout stages. Looking at their record – making at least the quarters in the last nine tournaments – you’d excuse German fans if they didn’t even bother to watch the group stage. (According to Boris Becker, many don’t!)

This summer is unlikely to be any different. Still under the steady-handed stewardship of Jogi Low, the Germans have an enviable pool of talent from which to choose their squad. Indeed, such is their strength in depth, bundesliga.com recently took it upon themselves to name, not one, but four entirely different possible starting XIs.

The Germans have an enviable pool of talent.

Let’s do a little list. Ozil, Reus, Muller, Kroos, Hummels, Boateng, Neuer, Gundogan, Sane, Draxler, Can, Goretzka, Rudiger, Gotze, Mustafi, Howedes, Leno, Khedira, Sule, Kimmich, Ter Stegen … isn’t going to be little this is it. Okay, Germany, we get it, you’re good, chill out.

The side that starts their opening game against Mexico will almost certainly be a classic mix of youth and experience: a spine of 2014’s winners, with a sprinkling of up-and-coming talent at full back in Hector and Kimmich, and the ever-reliable Thomas Muller supporting hot-property Timo Werner up front.

Speaking of ever-reliable, you can always rely on adidas to produce utterly stellar kits for the German national team. Do they reserve their best designers for exactly that task every four years? Quite possibly – why wouldn’t you, when it’s your country? Since they started adding colour to the classic white base of the home strip in the 80s, pretty much every tournament shirt has been an absolute corker.

This year, however, it’s the away kit that’s the real showstopper. Harking back to the green, geometric design seen in 1990, it’s as eye-catching as it is traditional. According to adidas, the throwback look is in honour of “West Germany's players [who] held their nerve to overcome England on penalties after an epic semi-final encounter in 1990”. Cheers guys, appreciate the reminder.

This year it’s the away kit that’s the real showstopper.

Let’s be honest though, if you’re English, you don’t buy a Germany shirt to evoke memories of painful defeats – you buy it because it’s boss, with a unique style you simply don’t get from any other nation. The fact that means you’re also backing one of the likely eventual winners with loads of cool players to get behind is just a nice added bonus. Leroy Sane covering the entire length of the pitch in 10 seconds? Manuel Neuer dribbling past three opponents next to his own corner flag, just because he can? Toni Kroos, curling a sidefoot finish around the keeper from 25 yards? All while wearing perhaps the best kit at the tournament? Oh, go on then.

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