Neuer to lead Low's new faces in title defence bid

BERLIN • With Manuel Neuer confirmed as his new captain, Joachim Low plans to blood Germany's next generation as part of his team's preparations to defend their World Cup title in Russia.

Germany's journey to the 2018 Finals starts today at Oslo's Ullevaal Stadium in their opening qualifier against Norway.

Since winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, coach Low has lost five veterans, each of whom made more than 100 appearances for Germany.

Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and now Bastian Schweinsteiger, who bowed out in Wednesday's 2-0 friendly win over Finland, have all retired from international football after the 2014 World Cup triumph.

With them went the collective experience of 604 caps and 152 goals.

But Germany's next crop of talent is knocking at the door and Low has said they will get their chance on the road to Russia.

Hoffenheim defender Niklas Sule made his debut against Finland while the midfield pair of Schalke 04's Max Meyer and Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt also started in Monchengladbach.

All three are still only 20.

"They did well. You could see that we were taking a look at the future," Low said after the Finland win.

"It was either their first game, or one of their first, and we'll be using games like that to give the players experience.

"I want to increase the prospects of the younger players. From now on, the door is wide open."

For now, Low will take no risks with the starting line-up in Oslo, but Meyer and 21-year-old Bayern Munich defender Joshua Kimmich are expected to feature.

"We will field a strong team. And we will win," he insisted.

Of Low's trusted core, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller are still only 26, while Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Mesut Ozil are 27.

Neuer, 30, having already been captain for five of Germany's six matches at Euro 2016 when Schweinsteiger was sidelined with a knee injury, says his role is to integrate tomorrow's stars into the national set-up.

"I try to speak to the young players and make sure they feel welcome," said the Bayern Munich 'keeper. "It's worked well and they have confirmed that with their performances."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Neuer to lead Low's new faces in title defence bid'. Subscribe