No Muller, no Neuer, no Ozil - Germany's B-teams conquering the world

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It appeared Joachim Low was taking the Confederations Cup lightly by bringing a shadow squad to Russia but the deputies have been exceptional


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It’s been a “summer off” to remember for Joachim Low and the German Football Federation. Most of their top stars are either relaxing or convalescing this summer but the country’s national sides have won one tournament in which contenders for a World Cup squad place featured and are in the final of another.

Germany's Confederations Cup campaign will have been a spectacular success even if the world champions don’t manage to defeat Chile in the final in St Petersburg on Sunday.

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"Whenever there's a tournament and you nominate a squad there's always a debate,” said Low. “There are decisions that are taken that are seen from different vantage points.

“The decision to go with a squad that is perhaps not as experienced at international level as other choices would have been, I can fully live with that decision. I feel vindicated and I believe we have really out-done expectations here.

Leon Goretzka Germany

The likes of Benjamin Henrichs, Niklas Sule, Leon Goretzka, Timo Werner and Lars Stindl were put into this squad to prove they could take a step up in class and perhaps make the full World Cup squad next summer.

Each one has taken his chance while Amin Younes, Emre Can and Julian Brandt will have also given their coach plenty to think about as well.

Goretzka has probably been the standout player having scored three goals as Germany eased past Australia, Chile, Cameroon and Mexico to reach the final alongside the South American champions.

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It is stunning to think of the task he has in front of him to make the final cut for Russia 2018 along with the other Confederations Cup stars.

Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Howedes, Julian Weigl, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller are all enjoying a well-deserved summer off, meaning Germany’s talent pool in all positions is about as deep as it’s ever been.

Most of that crew would expect to start for the national team next summer with only full-backs or wing-backs needed to complete a full-strength XI.

Only Jonas Hector and perhaps Joshua Kimmich from this squad are reasonably assured of their starting places at the World Cup next summer. Even captain Julian Draxler still has work to do.

"It speaks great volumes to the strength of the German talent pool,” said Draxler. “The Under-21s just won the Euros and they have excellent players as well.

“We have excellent players who want to be part of the squad next year. The head coach can be really pleased; he has a great pool to choose from."

Max Arnold Germany Under-21 30062017

gfx Germany absent XI 020717

Low could not have asked for more from his inexperienced squad, of which seven players would have eligible to represent Stefan Kuntz’s side at the Under-21 European Championship.

Matthias Ginter, Sule, Kimmich, Goretzka, Can, Brandt and Werner could all have featured in that tournament instead of this as Low put his fringe players to the test.

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Nonetheless the young Germans there made light work of the suggestion that Spain’s new crop would have too much class for them in the final. That means they won the underage tournament with what amounted to a B team.

The senior team might well be out of reach for most of this under-21s team that brought home the gold in Poland – Jeremy Toljan, Max Meyer, Max Arnold and Serge Gnabry could well be in with an outside shot of the 23 – but it all serves to demonstrate the rude health the national team currently finds itself in.

The DFB values tournament football above all else and this summer they are getting plenty of it. Next summer the Germans will start the World Cup as one of the favourites regardless of what happens over the course of the next 12 months.

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