We heard from Lothar Matthäus, now it’s our turn to pick our lineups for this Germany team at the World Cup. In case you missed it, INNN and Tom discussed their picks on Bavarian Podcast Works already — now a few more BFW staff writers take a crack at the Hansi-Elf.
Now, without further ado!
With Germany’s official squad announced, all questionable picks aside, who should be the Champagne XI for Hansi Flick’s Deutschland? Here’s my line-up:
The lineup will be Flick’s standard 4-2-3-1. In goal, we have Bayern Munich legend Manuel Neuer; FC Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp won’t play realistically.
The defense will consist of RB Leipzig’s David Raum, Real Madrid’s Antonio Rüdiger, Borussia Dortmund’s Nico Schlotterbeck, and anyone but West Ham’s Thilo Kehrer at right-back. That position could be filled in by Dortmund’s Niklas Süle or Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Jonas Hofmann; Süle can morph into Sülinho and Hofmann can be an attacking wingback.
The pivot will be comprised of Bayern teammates Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, with Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan as the player who can fill in for either of them. Kimmich and Goretzka is a solid partnership and they already know each other at club level so there shouldn’t be any problems there.
The wingers/attack will be Leroy Sané on the left, one of Serge Gnabry or Jamal Musiala on the right, Thomas Müller in the 10, and Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug up top. Sané is inSané right now while Gnabry’s form is picking up; Müller and Musiala are themselves and they should slot right in; Füllkrug up top since we’ve been clamoring for a proper striker and it will be interesting as to how he plays on the international stage. If we get the job done early, Müller can be rested and Musiala starts.
We’re going full Hansi here: front foot, aggressive, high up the pitch. Is it a back three, a back four? Nah fam, it’s a back Neuer, don’t worry about it.
If Flick is taking inspiration from Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern side, he’ll have Sané creating from the right wing while Gnabry and Müller reprise their roles — with maybe Chelsea FC’s Kai Havertz or Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug manning the 9 until Müller (ten World Cup goals to his name!) returns.
In midfield, Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan provides the smooth control and defensive positioning needed next to Joshua Kimmich (and behind David Raum). In defense, it’ll be up to Niklas Süle to show up ready to grab a starting role. Kehrer is not as audacious but maybe more natural at right-back, while Ginter is solid and no-nonsense in the center. Look for Lukas Klostermann to take over at right-back once he’s fully fit.
After the Oman game, left-back is a spot of intrigue for me as SC Freiburg’s Christian Günter impressed. It wouldn’t shock me if Raum is supplanted.
In goal, Manuel Neuer will don the captain’s armband. Flick has already confirmed that Neuer will be the No. 1 in Qatar, so that’s a no brainer.
The defense is where a lot of question marks are raised. Knowing Flick, he’ll probably do what everyone is dreading and start Thilo Kehrer, who’s having a horrid season at West Ham, but what he should do is move Niklas Süle to right back. Flick already played Süle as a full-back during his Bayern days to good effect, so why not try it again for the national side? In the middle, Flick should have called up Mats Hummels, but since that ship has sailed, Matthias Ginter should start alongside Antonio Rüdiger. Ginter was solid for Germany at Euro 2020, and he has been not half bad for Freiburg this season. Nico Schlotterbeck is too error-prone to trust on the biggest stage of world football. On the left, David Raum seems to have made the position his own, so there he stays.
The midfield is easy, with Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka reprising their Bayern roles for the national team. Both have been in very good form recently, and Flick would be unwise not to start them.
The attack is also a mystery, but one thing’s for sure: Flick needs to take full advantage of the Bayern contingent. Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané, and Jamal Musiala have all impressed this season, and Flick will have to choose three out of the four. As of now, Sané, Musiala, and Gnabry look likely to start, given that Müller is just returning from injury, but Müller’s experience is next to none, so he would probably be the best option to start when fit. Manning the front line is Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug, who is enjoying a stellar season with his team. Although he does not have any international experience so far, he is exactly the type of classic No. 9 that Germany currently needs. Flick has always benefited from having a true striker up front at Bayern, and it would be worth giving Füllkrug the shot he deserves.