Joachim Löw’s Germany side head to Russia this summer battling to add to their four World Cup wins and become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to win consecutive titles.
History suggests that the key to Die Mannschaft’s hopes will surely be the prolificacy of their frontline. The country has always possessed a lethal frontman, or four in some cases, for their assault on the greatest show on Earth.
In 1954, there was Max Morlock, Helmut Rahn, Hans Schäfer and Ottmar Walter scoring 18 goals between them as Germany held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft. In 1974, it was Gerd Müller with his four goals. Then, in 1990, it was Jürgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler combining to secure their third title, and in 2014, it was Thomas Müller with five strikes. Four lethal forward lines, four titles.
Stellar seasons spells success for Germany
Having named their 23-man squad on Tuesday afternoon, the German team can again boast a wealth of talent such as Müller, Timo Werner and Mario Gomez. There is little reason as to why the trio are not able to emulate the heroes of German football and combine to allow Germany to be named the joint-most successful team in World Cup history alongside Brazil with their fifth title.
The sheer statistics can vouch for this. Combined this season, the three arrive in Russia having amassed 46 goals between them in all competitions, as well as 33 assists, for Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and Stuttgart. The records of the four when on the national stage simply cannot be ignored either. Müller stands ahead of the rest having plundered a stunning 38 goals in 90 appearances for the national teams. Elsewhere, Werner already has seven strikes to his name despite his relatively short international career with the infinitely more experienced Gomez possessing 31 international strikes to his name.
Whilst these figures can simply not match-up to the strike rate of the unforgettable ‘der Bomber’ , Gerd Müller, who netted an eye-watering 68 times in only 62 appearances for his country, the triumvirate can go a long way in etching their names into World Cup legend yet again.
Müller the main man
Take, for example, his name sake, Thomas Müller. Whilst not the most glamorous of forwards, the irrepressible 28-year-old has already left his mark on the greatest spectacle that football has to offer having netted ten times in the past two tournaments. The individual accolades for such a player are scarcely believable: FIFA World Cup 2010 Golden Boot winner, FIFA World Cup 2014 Silver Boot, FIFA World Cup Best Young Player, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team 2014, and others.
It would be fair to assume that these were the awards bestowed upon Gerd, considering his stunning strike rate of 1.27 goals per game in World Cups and the winning strike in the 1974 final against the Netherlands, however, they are not. They have been deservedly scooped by the Bayern Munich forward - only the third man to score at least five goals at multiple World Cups.
Like his predecessors, Thomas has been pivotal and could even surpass the feats of one of the most revered international strikers of the current generation; Miroslav Klose. For most football spectators, the image of the former Lazio and Bayern veteran doubling the lead in Germany’s 7-1 hammering of Brazil in 2014 is still fresh in the mind, especially for the forward who had just become the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer.
Müller could yet usurp that. Currently averaging 0.77 goals per game at World Cup finals to Klose’s 0.66, the Weilheim-born striker could easily overtake Klose’s total of 16 World Cup strikes should he keep up his current rate. Now, that really is the mark of an elite forward – yet another reason as to why Germany’s World Cup hopes hinge on their attack.
Outscoring the elite
Germany seem to have their formula just right in terms of their goalscoring prowess. Each of the country’s legendary forwards have left their stamp on the tournaments in their own individual way and are affectionately remembered as a result.
The records have continued to tumble in the wake of Die Mannschaft’s pursuit of success, including in their stunning victory over Hungary in the 1954 final, a success spearheaded by Morlock and Rahn as West Germany came from 2-0 down. Most also have to bear in mind the huge ‘underdog’ title that the Germans were lumbered with considering the quality of the Hungarian team at the time.
Whilst Löw’s men will this time be rather more fancied to go all the way, their frontline in recent years has still outgunned even the best. A glance only has to be paid to the final in Brazil as Mario Götze scythed down an Argentina team containing Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Agüero. Again, this almost echoes to the past as Ferenc Puskás was silenced by the German attack. If they could again repeat that historical drama, the streets from Berlin to Munich and from Cologne to Cottbus will celebrate.
You can't win anything with kids'
To quote one of the most celebrated clichés in football, the Germans also have the perfect of youth and balance as they head to Russia. Müller represents the player at his peak, whilst Gomez is the experienced head. Meanwhile, you also have Werner, the youthful promise. The 22-year-old arrives off the back of another stellar season with RB Leipzig.
Whilst the pressure is huge on such young shoulders, he should look to Jürgen Klinsmann for inspiration. At the age of only 25, the former Tottenham man was joint-top scorer for Germany as they pocketed yet another crown in 1990 in Italy. Despite not scoring prolifically at the tournament, he was a crucial cog in the round of 16 clash with the Netherlands following Völler’s red card. His performance was outstanding, and it was his typical, energy-sapping style of play and clinical finish for the only goal that set the Germans on their way.
Ironically, Werner arrives with much of the same motivation and style. Despite being younger, he again could assemble with Müller and Klose to power Germany to the World Cup.
If Müller, Gomez and Werner do therefore go on to combine with anywhere near as much fluency and German brilliance, Löw’s men will be in with a fantastic chance of winning the World Cup, and the trio will be ever closer to joining the already-crowded pantheon of greats in Die Mannschaft’s history.