Riedle hails Leipzig's Werner as most vital component for Germany in WC2018

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Tournament favourites Germany will need to keep Timo Werner under special protection until June 2018 if Karl-Heinz Riedle has his ways with him.

Germany will head into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as holders of the prestigious trophy and will undoubtedly be among the fancied teams to lift the trophy in Russia. Yet, no one in the modern era has been able to retain the World Cup, Brazil the last team to achieve that feat way back in 1962.

The Die Mannschaft narrowly defeated Argentina 1-0 in the final of the 2014 edition, despite a 7-1 demolition of hosts Brazil in the semi-final stage. Four years on, Joachim Low's side remains the ones to beat after another impressive qualifying campaign as well as winning the 2017 Confederations Cup despite sending what is effectively their second team to the latter tournament.

The four-times world champions have been drawn in Group F in next year's tournament where they are placed together with Sweden, Mexico and South Korea. The last time Germany met South Korea in a World Cup was the 2002 tournament which saw the former crushed the hopes of the host nation in reaching the final.

Former Borrusia Dortmund and Liverpool forward Karl-Heinz Riedle has represented Germany on many an occasion, even helping his team to the World Cup triumph in 1990 prior to the success in Brazil 2014.

Now 52-years-old, Riedle is expectant of another big World Cup outing for the Germans although he's cautious of what the likes of Sweden and South Korea could bring to the party.

"It's a hard group for sure. Sweden eliminated Germany this year. I don't know too much about South Korea team. Even the Germany national team coach said you'll never know what comes up. Everyone know Son (Heung-Min) at Tottenham is a very good player. If they qualified for the World Cup, they must be a strong team."

"I had the experience of playing South Korea in the World Cup in 94. We didn't know anything about the players but in the second half we knew everything because they were strong and battled us very good. We were lucky to win 3-2 in that game. So I'm sure they will also have a good team this time around. I'm looking forward to see them in the World Cup," Riedle told Goal in an exclusive interview. 

Karl-Heinz Riedle, Germany, World Cup 1994

Riedle is under no illusion as to what would constitute a failure for Germany - if they were sent packing in the group stage itself. Sweden may have stopped Italy in their qualifying tracks but Mexico and South Korea could not claim such strong recent records.

Stacked with world class players in every department, while other coaches have a hard time picking a good squad to bring the World Cup, the selection problem with Low is who to exclude for the flight to Russia.

As a forward in his playing days, Riedle can speak with authority on that position and that is where he sees the greatest problem to this Germany side. Acknowledging one RB Leipzig forward as the only viable in-form option at the moment, Riedle is worried should anything happen to that particular player prior to the tournament.

"Germany are the favourites in the group and because we are the title holders and probably one of the favourites to win the World Cup in Russia. I don't know. You see France and they have a really strong team this year. But you never know."

"With the German team, you would expect them to at least reach the semi-final or the final. I hope we can surprise and be the first team to be able to retain the trophy. We have a good team but the problem for us is that we are lacking about strikers at the moment. We only have Timo Werner who is top class at the moment. So if he is injured or off form, we will struggle up front," he added.

Karl-Heinz Rield was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as part of Borussia Dortmund's trophy tour where the DFB-Pokal Cup was paraded to local fans which also included a week-long football training camp for school children.

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