5 nations and their potential 2018 World Cup starting lineups
It seems just yesterday that a magical world cup campaign in Brazil reached its conclusion, culminating in an inevitable German triumph at the Maracanã. Fast forward twelve months and it seems ludicrous to even think about the next edition but, with pressure mounting on the organisation that runs the beloved tournament, it can be difficult to keep national football off the mind, especially as we look for something to fill the footballing void with the start of the domestic season some weeks away.With the thin ice supporting Sepp Blatter finally giving way following uproar in the wake of his re-election, it has been announced that renewed FIFA presidency will come to fruition next February, meaning we can turn our attention back to football and start looking at who will excite in the forthcoming campaigns. Moreover, as we see a growing profusion of players being subjected to speculation in the transfer market, fans are becoming more aware of foreign names and could be weighing up the potential threat each nation poses in Russia 2018.With the likes of Casillas, Xavi and Gerrard leaving their boyhood clubs in the season’s close, attention is being focused on the younger generation to lead their countries to future glory and the likelihood is the next world cup will bring sides littered with today’s wonder kids.Therefore, perhaps it’s time you familiarise yourself with the crop of young gems that will be gracing your screen at the next world cup, meanwhile getting a feel for how your nation could line-up in three years’ time. Luckily for you, I have put together a list of the continent’s five big guns and the shape they could adopt ahead of the next turnout of the biggest show on Earth.
Where better to start a list of potential 2018 World Cup starting line-ups than with the holders themselves. Boasting such an attractive array of young talents and experienced heads, Germany were perhaps the hardest nation to pick a solid first eleven from and I’m sure many of you out there have your queries with my selection, but hear me out.
Even with the emergence of world-class prospects Leno and ter Stegen, as arguably the greatest keeper in the world, Manuel Neuer was a no-brainer between the sticks, with his superb reflexes coupled with his ability to play aggressive and adopt the ‘sweeper’ role in the back-line making him a vital asset.
The current Dortmund partnership will play through the centre, with young gun Matthias Ginter expected to be one of the finest defenders in world football in years to come, while Hummels will utilise his experience, with 32 caps at present, to act as the sturdy bedrock of this dynamic German side. Boateng may need to force himself into the side as a full-back, while Erik Durm has been a revelation at Dortmund this past season and his continuing development should cement himself a place at left-back.
Both Toni Kroos and Emre Can make up the holding roles on merit after the latter followed up a mediocre season at Liverpool with a string of mature performances in the U-21 European Championships last month. The former meanwhile has beaten off competition at Real Madrid to become a regular starter in midfield for the Spanish giants, making 36 appearances last season and he continues to prove his worth in Germany’s midfield. The edge Kroos possesses is his ability to contribute at both ends of the field.
Mario Götze beats Mesut Özil into the side as he will have the superior legs to compete throughout the whole tournament and the current Bayern man will no doubt be at the pinnacle of his career when the next competition comes around. Volland, an up-and-coming star at Hoffenheim, could interchange with Müller in this very versatile German attack, while Marco Reus is expected to be the nation’s main man in a few years’ time, so gets the nod on the flank ahead of Andre Schurrle.