Germany National Team at Russia 2018

Source Wikipedia. Creative Commons.
About a year ago, we predicted the German national team that is going to play in Russia 2018 - provided they qualify that is. Since April we have a new, better algorithm and it is worth redoing this exercise. The new algorithm also uses a dedicated aging curve for goalkeepers, so the prediction there becomes it bit more meaningful. Additionally, Philip Lahm retired from the national team and hence will not be considered here.

Goalkeeper

Manuel Neuer ist expected to stay the uncontested number one between the German posts. But as runners up we'd pick some new faces. Ter Stegen isn't unknown and despite some critics on his performances in Barcelona the second best Germa keeper by quite some margin. He is still young and hence we expect him to be improved by then. The third choice, Oliver Baumann, isn't on many short lists for national teams. There you'd find probably Bernd Leno or Timo Horn and rightly so. We have them as close number four and five, so this is very possible to be one of those. Ron-Robert Zieler would not be called to the national team if it would be decided by Goalimpact alone.

Player PeakGI Current Team Age@2018 GI@2018
Manuel Neuer 199.7 Bayern München 32.3 195.3
Marc-André ter Stegen 175.8 FC Barcelona 26.2 167.2
Oliver Baumann 157.7 1899 Hoffenheim 28.1 153.4


Defenders

Only three defenders of the 2014 World Champions (Hummels, Boateng, Höwedes) are expected to play 2018, too. However, probably Badstuber would have been part of the 2014 team if it wasn't for his injury. New old pick is Marcel Schmelzer who played in the wider circle of the team many games already. Jantschke isn't close to the NT, but also seems generally very underrated in Germany. Completely unknown to many must be Salzburg's Schmitz. He is still young and will only be 23 by 2018. Oczipka would be only an addition to the team as backup. His Goalimpact is somewhat lower.

Player PeakGI Current Team Age@2018 GI@2018
Mats Hummels 184.0 Borussia Dortmund 29.5 178.6
Tony Jantschke 174.1 Bor. Mönchengladbach 28.3 169.7
Jérôme Boateng 173.1 Bayern München 29.8 167.5
Benno Schmitz 166.1 RB Salzburg 23.6 161.7
Benedikt Höwedes 164.8 FC Schalke 04 30.3 157.4
Marcel Schmelzer 163.7 Borussia Dortmund 30.4 155.9
Holger Badstuber 152.7 Bayern München 29.3 147.5
Bastian Oczipka 139.0 Eintracht Frankfurt 29.5 133.6

From the current national players, Ginter is close to be selected and therefore is more a likely candidate than Oczipka. Emre Can has also some perspective. Durm, Hector, Mustafi and Rüdiger are less supported by the algorithm to travel to Russia in 2018.

Midfielders

There are many strong midfielders in Germany. Some of them are already world champions, but many new talented players are yet to come. Julian Brandt and May Meyer will be both only 22 by 2018, but are expected to excel on the highest level already. Many names on this list will be uncontroversial. Lewis Holtby may cause some raised eye brows though as he is not usually included in list of ridiculously talented German midfielders. A fun fact to notice here: There aren't any Bayern Munich players in here. But probably Bayern will buy one or the other until then.

Player PeakGI Current Team Age@2018 GI@2018
Mesut Özil 204.8 Arsenal FC 29.8 199.3
Toni Kroos 181.8 Real Madrid 28.5 177.2
Bastian Schweinsteiger 190.1 Manchester United 33.9 167.4
Julian Brandt 173.9 Bayer Leverkusen 22.2 165.4
Gonzalo Castro 167.6 Borussia Dortmund 31.1 156.4
İlkay Gündoğan 155.6 Borussia Dortmund 27.7 152.1
Lewis Holtby 155.0 Hamburger SV 27.8 151.3
Sami Khedira 161.1 Juventus 31.3 149.0
Patrick Herrmann 148.8 Bor. Mönchengladbach 27.4 145.9
Max Meyer 152.3 FC Schalke 04 22.8 145.5
Maximilian Arnold 147.3 VfL Wolfsburg 24.1 144.3

The midfield is very densely populated. Löw has so much talent to chose from and therefore some very good candidates need to be dropped. Lukas Podolski will be aged too much by then. Karim Bellarabi and Christoph Kramer are rated above average, but not high enough to have a spot.

Forwards

We expect Müller, Götze, Draxler and Schürrle to be playing four years later their next World Cup along with some new names. Max Kruse had already some first games in the national team and seems a logical addition. Marcel Risse is maybe less obvious.

Player PeakGI Current Team Age@2018 GI@2018
Thomas Müller 212.1 Bayern München 28.8 207.3
Mario Götze 205.9 Bayern München 26.1 205.7
André Schürrle 169.4 VfL Wolfsburg 27.7 166.0
Max Kruse 153.6 VfL Wolfsburg 30.3 146.6
Marcel Risse 149.7 1. FC Köln 28.5 145.2
Julian Draxler 144.6 VfL Wolfsburg 24.8 142.7

Löw never selects many striker so probably some of the names above will either not travel to Russia or play in the midfield. Just out of the selection are Marco Reus and Leroy Sané. Mario Gomez is rated, but will have aged significantly by then. We don't expect him too excel at as high age as Klose did.

Summary

To name the players that will play in a tournament in four years time is a terribly tough job. Still we gave a shot and selected 28 players that from today's perspective have some chances. We are curious to hear your thoughts on this. We will have a look at this list maybe in one year from now again to see how the players developed.

The Best XI Ever

In Brazil in summer of 2014, Jogi Löw prepared the German national team to enter the World Cup. He took care of all the details as famously documented in the movie "Die Mannschaft". One detail he addressed earlier was picking the best players to join the team. Germany had that year excellent players to choose from and Löw didn't want to take any risk. He mainly selected by output. And he did a very good job. Actually, for the opening game he fielded a starting XI with a Goalimpact of 179.0, the highest Goalimpact ever, in all competitions, on club and national team level.

From all his players available, he chose the ones with the highest Goalimpact, apart from Bastian Schweinsteiger who missed some weeks of team training due to an injury. That team beat Portugal 4:0 ensuring a good start in the tournament. Also the exactly same team drew a few days later against Ghana 2:2 in the heat of Fortaleza.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeClubNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Per Mertesacker160.0165.629.7Arsenal FC47543835
Mats Hummels187.5188.425.4Borussia Dortmund32528466
Thomas Müller216.0218.024.8Bayern München37729855
Toni Kroos178.9181.424.4Bayern München31923051
Philipp Lahm164.4173.030.6Bayern München58151993
Manuel Neuer194.6199.128.2Bayern München43840917
Benedikt Höwedes165.8166.326.3FC Schalke 0432928208
Jérôme Boateng169.0169.425.8Bayern München35428593
Mario Götze171.4180.622.0Bayern München20414298
Mesut Özil206.9207.525.7Arsenal FC43833170
Sami Khedira154.7157.227.2Real Madrid34927770
Average179.0182.426.4
Bench
André Schürrle151.7156.123.6Chelsea FC25718827
Miroslav Klose126.1164.236.0Lazio Roma60545175
Roman Weidenfeller139.7145.233.8Borussia Dortmund41438278
Julian Draxler126.2147.320.7FC Schalke 0417011338
Bastian Schweinsteiger181.8187.529.8Bayern München56743606
Matthias Ginter115.7139.920.3SC Freiburg13712556
Lukas Podolski138.9144.029.0Arsenal FC42932205
Kevin Großkreutz145.6145.825.8Borussia Dortmund34527128
Christoph Kramer100.7105.923.3Bor. Mönchengladbach18014941
Shkodran Mustafi106.3115.122.1Sampdoria756182
Erik Durm98.7107.722.1Borussia Dortmund1239537
Ron-Robert Zieler116.6129.525.3Hannover 9617316172
Average129.0140.726.0

When Germany played Brazil in the semi finals, the team's Goalimpact was slightly lower. Featuring aging Miroslaw Klose instead of Mario Götze reduced the Goalimpact more than replacing Per Mertesacker by Bastian Schweinsteiger could improve it.

Notice also that Germany lacked depth in the team. Many bench players had a considerably lower Goalimpact than the first XI. Hence, they were lucky not to suffer multiple injuries. So it is no surprise that the weakest starting XI of Germany in the tournament played the final against Argentina. It had only a Goalimpact of 171.2.

FC Barcelona 2013/2014

The starting XI with the highest Goalimpact, 177.5, ever to play at club level, was Martino's Barcelona in a league game on 15. February 2014 against Rayo Vallecano that they trashed 6:0. It was also the second best starting XI ever after Germany 2014. Again there weren't many options to improve the team's Goalimpact further. Just GI would have chosen Mascherano over the aging Puyol.

Notice how may players have left the team in the meanwhile, mainly to join a Premier League club.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Busquets206.6207.325.6Spanien30124065
Lionel Messi202.4203.726.6Argentinien46037187
Dani Alves172.1181.730.8Brasilien53445708
Piqué187.2189.327.0Spanien36130563
Alexis Sánchez168.5169.925.1Chile32221786
Iniesta172.6178.229.8Spanien53938371
Pedro165.1166.226.5Spanien27017408
Adriano156.6161.929.3Brasilien35725429
Puyol138.1174.935.8Spanien63655202
Cesc Fàbregas209.3210.926.8Spanien48936983
Victor Valdés173.9178.432.1Spanien52348678
Average177.5183.928.7
Bench
Javier Mascherano175.9181.529.7Argentinien45038045
Alex Song178.2179.126.4Kamerun34127004
Ibrahim Afellay133.7137.627.8Niederlande28520221
Neymar135.4144.622.0Brasilien18214671
Pinto121.2136.138.322620660
Jordi Alba117.8119.524.8Spanien22817260
Cristian Tello115.1122.822.5Spanien [U21]1306210
Average139.6145.927.4

Bayern Munich 2014/2015

The second highest ranked club ever with 177.0 isn't rated much lower. On 11. March 2015, Pep Guardiola's Bayern defeated Shakhtar Donetsk with a humiliating 7:0. Apart from the excellent starting XI this was facilitated by a very early red card against Shakthar.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Rafinha166.7172.129.5Brasilien Olymp.36330547
David Alaba162.2169.222.7Österreich27122450
Thomas Müller212.5213.425.5Deutschland41833197
Arjen Robben179.2190.631.1Niederlande52739194
Bastian Schweinsteiger180.3189.130.6Deutschland58745018
Manuel Neuer194.9199.228.9Deutschland48245071
Holger Badstuber148.1148.126.0Deutschland27023655
Jérôme Boateng169.6170.726.5Deutschland39231889
Robert Lewandowski196.8197.926.5Polen31725342
Mario Götze186.6193.522.8Deutschland24317029
Franck Ribéry150.6166.031.9Frankreich46737594
Average177.0182.727.5
Bench
Claudio Pizarro119.9161.836.4Peru62344801
Pepe Reina167.8172.432.5Spanien63458921
Philipp Lahm162.7175.131.3Deutschland60654247
Medhi Benatia144.6148.627.8Marokko22719902
Juan Bernat119.4128.522.0Spanien1228762
Dante164.4177.131.3Brasilien33930018
Sebastian Rode109.9112.424.4Deutschland [U21]16912927
Average141.2153.729.4

Overview

And here are the top 25 starting XIs ever according to Goalimpact. Per season the table is showing each team only once, with the highest Goalimpact. Observations:

  • The only non-Spanish, non-German entry is Manchester City from the last two seasons.
  • All entries are from recent years. For the clubs this can be explained by a stronger concentration of top players on few top clubs. I'm not sure what to make for the national team from it. The third best national team is the Netherlands 1998 followed by Germany 1982. So maybe for national teams this is incidental.
  • The highest ranked starting XI ever to lose a match was FC Barcelona (174.8) losing against Real Valladolid 1:0 on the 27th match day of the 2013/2014 season of Primera Division. This is the 21st ranked starting XI. (not in the list below as this was not their best starting XI that season.)


Competition Season Round Team Goalimpact Match
World Cup 2014 in Brazil Group G Germany 179.0 Deutschland - Portugal 4:0
Primera Division 2013/2014 24. Match Day FC Barcelona 177.5 FC Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano 6:0
Champions League 2014/2015 Achtelfinale Bayern München 177.0 Bayern München - Shakhtar Donetsk 7:0
Primera Division 2012/2013 22. Match Day FC Barcelona 176.3 Valencia CF - FC Barcelona 1:1
Bundesliga 2013/2014 27. Match Day Bayern München 175.2 Hertha BSC - Bayern München 1:3
Champions League 2011/2012 Achtelfinale FC Barcelona 174.2 FC Barcelona - Bayer Leverkusen 7:1
Champions League 2014/2015 Final FC Barcelona 172.4 Juventus - FC Barcelona 1:3
EC-Quali. 2014/2015 Group D Germany 172.3 Schottland - Deutschland 2:3
WC-Quali. Europe 2012/2013 Group C Germany 171.9 Schweden - Deutschland 3:5
Bundesliga 2015/2016 1. Match Day Bayern München 171.1 Bayern München - Hamburger SV 5:0
Primera Division 2012/2013 7. Match Day Real Madrid 170.6 FC Barcelona - Real Madrid 2:2
EC 2012 in Poland/Ukraine Final Spain 169.3 Spanien - Italien 4:0
WM-Quali. Europa 2012/2013 Group I Spain 169.1 Spanien - Finnland 1:1
EC 2012 in Poland/Ukraine Group B Germany 168.8 Niederlande - Deutschland 1:2
EC-Quali. 2014/2015 Group C Spain 168.4 Spanien - Slowakei 2:0
Primera Division 2014/2015 17. Match Day Real Madrid 168.3 Valencia CF - Real Madrid 2:1
Champions League 2011/2012 Halbfinale Real Madrid 167.9 Real Madrid - Bayern München 1:3
Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil Group B Spain 167.2 Nigeria - Spanien 0:3
Primera Division 2015/2016 5. Match Day FC Barcelona 166.5 Celta Vigo - FC Barcelona 4:1
Champions League 2012/2013 Halbfinale Bayern München 165.8 Bayern München - FC Barcelona 4:0
Champions League 2010/2011 Halbfinale FC Barcelona 165.8 FC Barcelona - Real Madrid 1:1
Primera Division 2015/2016 2. Match Day Real Madrid 163.6 Real Madrid - Real Betis 5:0
Champions League 2013/2014 Achtelfinale Real Madrid 163.0 FC Schalke 04 - Real Madrid 1:6
Champions League 2014/2015 Group E Manchester City 160.7 Manchester City - AS Roma 1:1
Premier League 2013/2014 35. Match Day Manchester City 159.8 Manchester City - West Bromwich Albion 3:1




Which German Goalkeepers should Löw pick?

The German national coach for goalkeepers, Andreas Köpke, recently named the goalkeepers that he has on his list for the national team and, hence, which are competing for participation in the European Championship 2016 (should Germany qualify). Besides the current number one Manuel Neuer and his senior backup Roman Weidenfeller, these are the known contenders Barca's new signing Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Leverkusen's Bernd Leno. Less known are Schalke's Ralf Fährmann, Kevin Trapp (Frankfurt), Timo Horn (Köln) and Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim).

We take the opportunity and check if this is the best choice according to Goalimpact, too. If you want to know how our rating works on goalkeepers, we wrote the concept down here. In short, we evaluate the average goal difference in games with the keeper as compared to games without and correct this result for many many factors such as team mate and opponent strength, home field advantage and others. Wait, you will say. My team always plays with the same keeper. There is no such thing as a "game without". In order to circumvent this, there are many precautions taken, most of all we take the information of all games of a players career and not only one season.

If we plot the current Goalimpact on the x-axis and the expected career peak value "PeakGI" on the y-axis, we obtain a chart with all currently excellent keepers on the right-hand side and all very talented keepers on the upper part.

All German professional goalkeepers. Keepers on the short list for the national
team are marked orange. Most of them are either very good and have a Goalimpact
of 140+ or are a prospect of having one later in their career.

As we can see, Manuel Neuer is in the top right corner, basically playing in his own league. Roman Weidenfeller is the second best keeper but already considerably behind Neuer's Goalimpact. Moreover, he is already at his peak and hence is unlikely to improve from here on. He himself declared the European Championship as a "welcome end" to his career in the national team.

The chart enables us to rate the contenders in comparison to the former two. They are all significantly weaker in their current performance, but this is due to their young age. If we compare the PeakGIs, we see that all of them but Ralf Fährmann are in the range spanned by Weidenfeller and Neuer. Trapp and Baumann are very good keepers that are on their way to become as successful as Weidenfeller, but that may not be enough to secure a place in the future national team. The reason is that the other contenders, Leno, ter Stegen and Horn, are more talented and are expected to overtake Trapp and Baumann in Goalimpact eventually. Ralf Fährmann is currently not expected to peak above 140 and hence high enough to join the national team.

All in all, Goalimpact would have selected a very similar set of goalkeepers as a mix of talents and experienced players. Only exception is that we would prefer Jens Grahl over Ralf Fährmann. And then there are some more talents out there that didn't make it to a major league yet and were probably not considered by Köppke and Löw for that reason. However, given their talent they are likely to move to higher leagues soon.

Beside the named players, there are some other even younger goalkeepers leaving the youth development centers that are expected to peak in the relevant range of 140 to 160. Germany, you will keep your tradition of good goalkeeping for at least one more player generation.

Predicting Future National Teams

Our prediction on the German national team that will play in Russia 2018 four years from now, caused some discussions. Some were finding the selections great, some were missing some players that are currently sure bets to be included such as Marco Reus.

Predicting a team in four years time is a terribly hard thing to do. Even predicting the development of a single player isn't easy at all. Predicting the development of all players of a country and selecting the best XI in four years from now is a job only fouls can take on. In order to get some feeling on the general quality of our forecast, Simon Gleave suggested to roll back in time and predict the German national team for the 2014 World Cup back in 2010.

The 2010 Team

We think that is a brilliant idea. But before we do that, let's get our mindset right back to those times by looking at the 2010 World Cup team. The first XI back is marked green in the following table

Player Minutes Games Starting XI
Arne Friedrich 630' 7 7
Sami Khedira 609' 7 7
Per Mertesacker 630' 7 7
Mesut Özil 587' 7 7
Bastian Schweinsteiger 621' 7 7
Philipp Lahm 540' 6 6
Thomas Müller 474' 6 6
Manuel Neuer 540' 6 6
Lukas Podolski 531' 6 6
Jérôme Boateng 376' 5 5
Miroslav Klose 357' 5 5
Cacau 205' 4 2
Mario Gómez 56' 4 -
Marcell Jansen 154' 4 1
Toni Kroos 59' 4 -
Piotr Trochowski 108' 4 1
Holger Badstuber 167' 2 2
Stefan Kießling 24' 2 -
Marko Marin 29' 2 -
Dennis Aogo 90' 1 1
Hans Jörg Butt 90' 1 1
Serdar Taşçı - 1 -
Tim Wiese - - -

Appart from Arne Friedrich and Lukas Podolski those players were still key players in the 2014 team. Podolski was among the 23 players but got only 54mins of playing time.

The other players in that team were either talents (marked orange) or regular substitutes. From those 12 players only Cacau can be considered as too old to be expected to play in 2014 again. Everybody else could, but only Kroos did. That said, it is a fair guess that Gomez and Badstuber would have been part of the 23 at least if it wasn't for his injuries. That leaves a hit rate of at best 3 out of the 11 young additional players if you take the old squad as best guess for the next World Cups team.

The Predicted 2014 Team

Ok here is our prediction of the 2014 team that we would have given to you if asked in Summer 2010 before the World Cup started. We leave out goalkeepers as we do not have an aging curve for them and hence can't really make predictions.

Here are the defenders. We put our picks for three center-backs plus Philip Lahm on the top as estimate for the standard defense as Löw played like this in 2014 (which we obviously wouldn't know back in 2010).

Defender Peak Team Age@2014 Goalimpact@2014
Per Mertesacker 139.0 Werder Bremen 29.8 133.1
Mats Hummels 131.3 Borussia Dortmund 25.5 129.7
Holger Badstuber 131.5 Bayern München 25.3 129.5
Philipp Lahm 147.9 Bayern München 30.7 136.3
Diego Contento 135.2 Bayern München 24.2 129.4
Nico Hammann 128.5 TSV 1860 München II 26.3 127.9
Benedikt Höwedes 128.1 FC Schalke 04 26.3 127.3
Jérôme Boateng 127.5 Hamburger SV 25.8 126.9
Daniel Schwaab 140.4 Bayer Leverkusen 25.8 139.9

For the defenders, we have a lot of hits (marked green) of players that were in the 2010 team and also played in 2014. These hits we would also have, if we just make the naive guess of an unchanged team. As argued above, we maybe could also mark Badstuber green as it is save to assume that a healthy Badstuber would have been in Brazil.

But the team did change a lot and three of the predicted players that were not in the 2010 team were actually predicted correctly (marked orange). Hummels had only 1 appearance in a friendly match against Malta at that time and Höwedes was not considered in the national team before 2011 at all.

While all main 2014 defenders have been correctly predicted by Goalimpact, we have some omissions in among the midfielders.

Midfielder Peak Team Age@2014 Goalimpact@2014
Bastian Schweinsteiger 153.0 Bayern München 29.9 146.9
Thomas Müller 148.5 Bayern München 24.8 144.8
Mesut Özil 136.4 Werder Bremen 25.7 135.3
Mario Götze 145.0 Borussia Dortmund U19 22.1 130.4
Roman Neustädter 131.1 Bor. Mönchengladbach II 26.3 130.3
Patrick Herrmann 135.1 Bor. Mönchengladbach II 23.4 126.3
Jens Hegeler 127.2 FC Augsburg 26.4 126.2
Gonzalo Castro 128.6 Bayer Leverkusen 27.1 126.1

We correctly predicted Schweinsteiger, Müller and Özil to stay in the team, and we even correctly predicted that Mario Götze - back then still playing in a youth league - will be part of the 2014 team. However, we have omitted Khedira and Kroos, two integral players in 2014 World Champions that were already part of the 2010 team. Both were not trailing much. Kroos was expected to have a Goalimpact of 122.6, Khedira of 122.1.

Our addition Neustädter wasn't bad. 2012 he made his first appearance in the national team. At the time we made the prediction, he was still playing in the fourth division. His team mate at that time Herrmann now also plays Bundesliga, but so far had no game for the national team. Hegeler, back then in the 2. Liga, now regularly plays Champions League and hence is also a good call for high talent, but he also didn't make it to the N11.

Joachim Löw didn't really take classical strikers to Brazil. In Germany's tactical system, it is difficult to have a clear line between striker and offensive midfielder anyway. The only striker that earns that label in the team was all time top-scorer Miroslav Klose. Due to aging, we didn't expect him to be still on the team. We added Schürrle to this category too, because he acts very offensive minded. We could also move Müller down here, but it wouldn't really change matters.

Player Peak Team Age@2014 Goalimpact@2014
Deniz Naki 134.7 FC St. Pauli 25.0 131.6
Julian Schieber 129.6 VfB Stuttgart 25.4 127.7
Daniel Ginczek 134.9 Borussia Dortmund II 23.3 125.4
Lewis Holtby 131.4 VfL Bochum 23.8 124.1
André Schürrle 130.9 1. FSV Mainz 05 23.7 123.2

Summary

From the eleven field players that played in 6 or more games for the German national team at the World cup, we correctly predicted ten. This includes the correct prediction of Höwedes, Hummels, Schürrle and Götze that were not part of the 2010 team. We missed out one player: Kroos. Just assuming the 2010 squad, would get seven players right.

Predicting future teams is subject to a very high degree of uncertainty. Not only for algorithms, but also for the experts out in the field. Or would you have expected, that the young German Messi that played in South Africa 2010 would not be part of the 2014 team?

Russia 2018: German National Team

Source Wikipedia. Creative Commons.
The World Cup in Brazil is over. While the celebrations are still going on, it is time for Germany to start the next mission; defending the title. Some of the cup winning team from 2014 are well past their peak and are unlikely still to play in the NT 2018. We publish a list of players we think will take the places.

Goalkeeper

We do not have an aging curve yet for goal keepers, so the list of best German goalkeepers in 2018 equals the list of best German goalkeepers today. Hence no surprises, one might think. But we think that maybe not many have Ferdinand Oswald on their list of top keepers.

Player Current Team Age@2018 GI@2018 PeakGI
Manuel Neuer Bayern München 32.3 169.6 169.6
Roman Weidenfeller Borussia Dortmund 37.9 128.7 128.7
Ferdinand Oswald FC Schalke 04 II 27.8 125.0 125.0

Defenders

Only three defenders of the 2014 World Champions are expected to play 2018, too. But Lahm, Hummels and Boateng are not just any three, they were also the backbone of the team's strong defensive performance. Benedikt Höwedes is not on the list, but he wasn't on GIs 2014 list either.

Player Team Age@2018 GI@2018 PeakGI
Philipp Lahm Bayern München 34.7 156.4 195.85
Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund 29.5 150.8 156.57
Jérôme Boateng Bayern München 29.8 144.0 149.97
Benno Schmitz Red Bull Salzburg 23.6 136.0 144.06
Marcel Schmelzer Borussia Dortmund 30.4 135.6 145.23
Vladimir Rankovic Hannover 96 25.0 134.3 137.45
Moritz Sprenger VfL Wolfsburg U19 23.3 133.2 142.38
Robin Knoche VfL Wolfsburg 26.1 133.1 133.33

Midfielders

Özil, Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Draxler sound familiar. The other names not so much. Strong midfielders are leaving the German football education center. Some already play Bundesliga, some are expected to do so soon. Update: Matthias Ottl seems to be an outlier. We don't expect him to really play in Russia, but kept him in the list for transparency reasons.

Player Team Age@2018 GI@2018 PeakGI
Mesut Özil Arsenal FC 29.7 159.1 164.99
Bastian Schweinsteiger Bayern München 33.9 156.5 188.78
Julian Brandt Bayer Leverkusen 22.2 142.2 156.48
Matthias Öttl Austria Salzburg 26.4 141.1 142.02
Toni Kroos Bayern München 28.5 139.5 144.49
Julian Draxler FC Schalke 04 24.8 137.7 141.63
Max Meyer FC Schalke 04 22.8 137.0 148.73
Federico Palacios-Martinez RB Leipzig 23.3 135.4 144.96
Marvin Friedrich FC Schalke 04 U19 22.6 134.1 146.57
Maximilian Arnold VfL Wolfsburg 24.1 133.8 139.82
Morris Schröter 1. FC Magdeburg 22.8 133.6 144.94

Forwards

We expect Müller, Götze and Schürrle to be playing four years later their next World Cup along with some new names. Lasogga was already 2014 on Löw's scouting list, but he didn't make the cut.

Player Team Age@2018 GI@2018 PeakGI
Thomas Müller Bayern München 28.8 171.8 177.05
Mario Götze Bayern München 26.1 161.5 161.71
Kevin Scheidhauer VfL Wolfsburg II 26.4 139.5 140.45
Patrick Weihrauch Bayern München II 24.3 129.0 134.23
Pierre-Michel Lasogga Hamburger SV 26.6 128.1 129.48
André Schürrle Chelsea FC 27.7 128.0 131.88

Summary

To name the players that will play in a tournament in four years time is a terribly tough job. Still we gave a shot and selected 28 players that from today's perspective have some chances. We are curious to hear your thoughts on this. We will have a look at this list every now and then to see how the players developed.

Germany vs Argentina 1:0 n.V.


Deutschland

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Manuel Neuer169.6169.628.3Bayern München40738098
Benedikt Höwedes127.9128.826.3FC Schalke 0428224031
Mats Hummels155.1156.625.5Borussia Dortmund30026297
Philipp Lahm184.4195.930.7Bayern München58152085
Jérôme Boateng149.4150.025.8Bayern München34027525
Bastian Schweinsteiger182.9188.829.9Bayern München57043814
Mesut Özil164.0165.025.7Arsenal FC40430250
Thomas Müller173.1177.124.8Bayern München35427986
Toni Kroos139.6144.524.5Bayern München30221625
Christoph Kramer109.8119.123.3Bor. Mönchengladbach18114956
Miroslav Klose115.0166.236.1Lazio Roma60545147
Average151.9160.127.4
Bench
Per Mertesacker157.5163.429.8Arsenal FC47944238
André Schürrle123.8131.923.7Chelsea FC25818809
Mario Götze146.7161.722.1Bayern München20314011
Ron-Robert Zieler105.4105.425.4Hannover 9617316172
Roman Weidenfeller128.7128.733.9Borussia Dortmund41438278
Kevin Großkreutz135.6135.725.9Borussia Dortmund31324488
Erik Durm103.8118.622.2Borussia Dortmund1209308
Matthias Ginter103.6131.120.4SC Freiburg13011781
Lukas Podolski110.4116.129.1Arsenal FC42431662
Julian Draxler116.7141.620.8FC Schalke 0417011338
Average123.2133.425.3


Argentinien

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Sergio Romero117.1117.127.3AS Monaco22820776
Ezequiel Garay132.1136.727.8SL Benfica26623903
Martín Demichelis118.7149.233.5Manchester City44737298
Marcos Rojo115.3120.924.3Sporting CP13611128
Pablo Zabaleta134.1139.829.4Manchester City41935093
Lucas Biglia131.3136.728.4Lazio Roma38632697
Enzo Pérez119.8125.228.3SL Benfica29722299
Javier Mascherano164.9171.330.1FC Barcelona46439569
Gonzalo Higuaí­n134.6136.126.6SSC Napoli36624134
Lionel Messi182.0184.727.0FC Barcelona47438762
Ezequiel Lavezzi113.5119.129.2Paris Saint-Germain38629871
Average133.0139.728.4
Bench
Fernando Gago110.3115.728.3Boca Juniors31224635
Rodrigo Palacio108.8134.132.4Inter41332023
Kun Agüero143.8144.026.1Manchester City44533062
Agustín Orión115.9115.932.9Boca Juniors31128680
Mariano Andújar96.996.930.9Calcio Catania33130675
Hugo Campagnaro89.7122.634.0Inter23519860
Federico Fernández112.5114.625.3SSC Napoli17113552
José Basanta102.7110.730.3CF Monterrey28124931
Ángel Di María147.6148.626.4Real Madrid37924985
Maxi Rodriguez97.6128.033.5Newell's Old Boys44534249
Augusto Fernández103.0108.428.3Celta Vigo26819605
Ricardo Àlvarez101.4102.026.3Inter1468268
Average110.9120.129.6


Odds based on starting XI: Deutschland: 58.8% (Home), draw: 25.6%, Argentinien: 15.6%

Odds based on starting XI: Deutschland: 28.6%, draw: 30.4%, Argentinien: 41.0% (HOME)

Odds based on starting XI: Deutschland: 43.1%, draw: 30.1%, Argentinien: 26.8% (Neutral Ground)