UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers: What is Germany's strongest starting XI?
Joachim Low has undoubtedly done a superb job since he became manager of Germany way back in 2006. The 59-year-old has guided Germany to a third-place finish at the 2010 World Cup, a runner up position at the 2008 European Championship with his best result being winning the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
However, since winning the World Cup in 2014, Germany has not been able to continue its dominance on the world stage with their 2018 World Cup ending during the group stage itself. This came as a huge shock to the world because Germany was expected to win their group considering that they were up against Sweden, Mexico, and South Korea.
Their form in the European Championship has been decent considering that they have finished as runner ups in 2008 and reached the semi-finals in the following two competitions. But the fact that they have not won the European Championship since 1996 is a cause for concern and Joachim Low will be determined to change that at the Euro 2020. Their recent showing at the UEFA Nations League raised a number of questions as well.
Since Low was appointed as manager in 2006, his squad has changed quite a bit and it is set to change again ahead of the Euro 2020. With players like Mesut Ozil, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Müller losing their spot in the team and players like Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger calling time on their German careers, Low has had to rebuild the German team and he undoubtedly has a plethora of talent to choose from.
Here is a look at the best possible starting 11 Joachim Low could select as he looks to rebuild Germany and take them to the top of world football again.
Marc-André ter Stegen should without a doubt take over from Manuel Neuer as Germany's first choice goalkeeper. The Barcelona shot-stopper has been excellent for the Spanish giants and is also regarded to ultimately take over from the Bayern keep. Ever since Neuer spent most of the 2017/18 season injured, he never returned the same player.
Since ter Stegen became Barcelona's first choice keeper in the 16/17 season, he has kept the second most clean sheets in the La Liga since then. This season the two keepers have both kept 15 clean sheets so far this season with Neuer playing 3 more games that ter Stegen.
At 33, Neuer might still have a few good years in him, but with Low looking to revamp and rebuild his whole squad, it's time he makes ter Stegen his number 1 choice keeper as he looks to add new blood and life to his team.
With Lahm retiring and the likes of Hummels and Boateng being dropped, Low has a huge task in deciding which defenders should replace them particularly center backs. With the likes of Niklas Sule, Antonio Rudiger, Thilo Kehrer, Matthias Ginter, Jonathan Tah and Niklas Stark all vying for that coveted spot, Low certainly has his hands full in deciding who his main centre-backs will be.
Given the names mentioned above, Rudiger and Sule should be the first choice center backs given their experience and number of games played compared to the other defenders mentioned. While all these defenders have been their teams first choice center backs, Rudiger and Sule are the most recognized and have already proven themselves to be top defenders.
The right-back position should undoubtedly be given to Joshua Kimmich. The Bayern man has thrived in that position since he took over from Lahm for both Germany and Bayern and selecting him is a no brainer.
The left-back position is another difficult choice but given the players Germany have, Hoffenheim's Nico Schulz should be given the spot. Since joining Hoffenheim he has scored 4 and assisted 11 and his dribbling and passing ability will suite Germany well.
Low needs to build his Germany midfield around Toni Kroos with the Real Madrid man the most experienced outfield player in the team right now and at 29, he still has a lot to offer. Kroos should also be named the captain and along with him the next player in midfield should be Ilkay Gundogan. The Manchester City midfielder has huge potential and having missed out on the Euro 2016 squad and the 2014 World Cup squad, Gundogan finally has a clear path into Germany's starting 11 and can finally prove to the world that he, in fact, is a top-class player.
The final player in midfield is a tough choice with players like Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz and Max Eggestein all eager to get into the German national team. But Marco Reus is the perfect player to play in front of Kroos and Gundogan as an attacking midfielder.
The Borussia Dortmund captain has missed the last three major international tournaments through injury but given his form for Dortmund over the last few years and this season, in particular, he deserves a spot in the German team and could finally shine at the world stage.
Two players who without a doubt have cemented their place in this new look German team are Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry. The Manchester City and Bayern Munich wingers are two of the best and most talented wingers Germany have and need to be Low's first choice wingers for Germany. The two are relatively new to the German team but have already proved that they can handle the pressure of playing for Germany.
Both players have been exceptional domestically for the last two years with Sane managing 28 goals and 36 assists while Gnabry has registered 19 goals and 19 assists over the last two seasons.
The final position is that of a center forward and currently, Germany is short of players in that position with Timo Werner the only option. The RB Leipzig striker is the only out and out striker they have so he will have to be Low's choice up front.
Werner has played 29 times for Germany and scored 9 goals and he still has a long way to go to prove he deserves a place in the starting 11, but his goal tally for Leipzig proves he certainly has an eye for goal and can deliver when required. In 104 appearances for Leipzig, Werner has managed a total of 56 goals and if given time to adjust he can definitely become a lethal striker for Germany as well.