Football: Germany's young guns come of age

Left: Germany's stand-in captain Julian Draxler receiving the Confederations Cup trophy from Fifa president Gianni InfantinoBelow: Germany forward Lars Stindl slotting home into an empty net for the winner against Chile.Bottom: Forward Timo Werner of
Above: Germany's stand-in captain Julian Draxler receiving the Confederations Cup trophy from Fifa president Gianni Infantino.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Left: Germany's stand-in captain Julian Draxler receiving the Confederations Cup trophy from Fifa president Gianni InfantinoBelow: Germany forward Lars Stindl slotting home into an empty net for the winner against Chile.Bottom: Forward Timo Werner of
Above: Germany forward Lars Stindl slotting home into an empty net for the winner against Chile.PHOTO: REUTERS
Left: Germany's stand-in captain Julian Draxler receiving the Confederations Cup trophy from Fifa president Gianni InfantinoBelow: Germany forward Lars Stindl slotting home into an empty net for the winner against Chile.Bottom: Forward Timo Werner of
Above: Forward Timo Werner of Germany posing alongside former Brazil international striker Ronaldo with the Golden Boot award for his three goals at the tournament.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Confed Cup victory shows their glut of riches and why they are team to beat in World Cup

ST PETERSBURG • After Germany's success at the Confederations Cup and Under-21 European championship over the past few days, coach Joachim Low must feel like a kid in a candy store as he maps out his plans for next year's World Cup title defence in Russia.

Despite resting more than half a dozen key players, Germany won the Confederations Cup for the first time on Sunday by beating South American champions Chile 1-0.

Lars Stindl's simple tap-in was enough to cement the victory in St Petersburg.

Two days earlier, the country's U-21 team secured the European title, stunning favourites Spain by the same score and confirming their stellar work at youth level.

The 57-year-old Low, now in his 11th year in charge, has a pool of more than 40 players to monitor as the clock ticks down to next year's World Cup Finals. All of them are battle-tested and with tournament experience.

"Joachim Low now has the big chance, with a mix of experience and dynamism, to put together a strong squad (for next year)," said German Football Association president Reinhard Grindel. "We have a big pool to chose from."

The biggest problem for Low is likely to be who to leave out.

Players like Confederations Cup joint top scorers Stindl, Timo Werner and Leon Goretzka, all of whom netted three times, have every right to believe their fine performances in Russia over the past fortnight will be a stepping stone to next year's main event.

Antonio Rudiger, Sebastian Rudy and Mathias Ginter also rose to the occasion, while Julian Draxler, who captained the team in the absence of Manuel Neuer, was voted player of the tournament.

"We certainly have a lot of players who in those two tournaments have filled up on confidence," Low said. "But for those players, the work is just starting, the big tournaments are still to come. To get to world-class level is an even bigger challenge."

The coach has long preached the importance of having two good players for every position to be successful at international level. Judging by performances over the past few days, it appears he may have at least three in some positions.

At the top of the pile are Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Marco Reus, who all sat out the Confederations Cup to be fit and fresh for the coming year.

Injury also kept out several other first-team players like Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan, Julian Weigl and Jonathan Tah.

But no one can afford to feel his position is secure with the likes of U-21 players Jeremy Toljan, Niklas Stark, Maximilian Arnold, Max Meyer, Serge Gnabry and Davie Selke pushing for a place in the full squad.

While Low was delighted to win both tournaments, he said the World Cup would be an entirely different proposition.

"Germany will always be one of the favourites, no matter what tournament," he said. "Winning the Confederations Cup and the U-21 Euro win are no guarantees.

"At a World Cup, there are five, six teams you battle against and everyone must almost be superhuman to succeed."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Germany's young guns come of age'. Print Edition | Subscribe