The Germany legend fawns over Die Mannshaft's impressive depth, while also selecting a player that Jogi Low ultimately cut from the final World Cup roster.

By Grant Wahl
June 15, 2018

Germany enters Russia 2018 as the defending World Cup champion, and it boasts one of the best and deepest teams in the world. That's evidenced by the difficulty in narrowing down its player pool to an ideal starting XI.

German legend and 1990 World Cup winner Lothar Matthaus joined the Planet Fútbol World Cup Daily Podcast prior to the World Cup and was asked who would take the field in his preferred starting lineup. With plenty of options to choose from, Matthaus listed his squad–which includes Low's most notable roster snub, Man City's Leroy Sane. Matthaus was asked the question before Low made his final roster cut, which speaks to the magnitude and surprise of Sane's omission.

(You can listen to the entirety of Matthaus's comments in the podcast console below. His segment begins at the 28:20 mark)

"Jogi Low plays mostly four defenders, two No. 6, three [attackers] in the midfield and one striker, it's a 4-2-3-1 system. And one goalkeeper," Matthaus said. 

"When Manuel Neuer is ready, he's the best goalkeeper in the world, he is a captain of the German national team. He is a captain of Bayern Munich. He is for me the No. 1. Not sure he can get ready until the opening game for Germany, but he will be part of the team, and when we don't have Manuel Neuer ready, then we have [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, he is the goalkeeper for Barcelona. Sounds the same. Very good. 

"Then on the right side, Joshua Kimmich from Bayern Munich, an excellent player. Before Philipp Lahm, the captain of the German national team, he finished his career and I think with Kimmich we have a really good one who can play in this position on a similar level. This means Kimmich on the right, in the center [Jerome] Boateng and [Mats] Hummels, means in the defense I have Bayern Munich players, and on the left side is a player who is not so famous, he's playing in Cologne, his name is Jonas Hector. He makes a good job. He's not an excellent, excellent player, but you can trust him. He's doing his job very well. When the team is in function, a player like him, he gives the team a same, good spirit and speed from the left side. He's tactically very good. He has a feeling for the situation and for this he is the player on the left. 

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"In the midfield [Sami] Khedira from Juventus and Toni Kroos from Real Madrid. I think that's a good mix between the two because Khedira is playing a little bit more on the right and a little bit more defense, Toni Kroos is a little bit more offense and is playing more on the left side. I think this is a good team on the No. 6, a good couple. 

"And then it's a big problem, because we have a lot of options. Four offenders. Three [midfielders] and one striker. A striker, when we have space against another team, it's Timo Werner and his speed. When we have to play in the box, we have Mario Gomez. He's stronger, taller, more experienced. But I think Jogi Low, and me too, we've been playing with Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.

"And then we have three offenders in the midfield. On the right side I think can play Thomas Muller, but this is not his favorite position, and this can be a problem for Jogi Low, because we have Marco Reus, we have Thomas Muller, we have Leroy Sane from Manchester City, we have [Julian] Draxler from PSG, Julian Brandt, [Mesut] Ozil from Arsenal. Players who play for the best clubs in the world.

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"I think about the position, I will play with Marco Reus on the left, from Borussia Dortmund. I will play with Leroy Sane on the right and I like to play with Muller in the middle. Muller is for me a player who is not playing anymore on the wing. He likes to play more in the center, like a second striker. It just means we can make more pressure and become more and more in the box. Ozil is a playmaker, we will need him during the tournament. He's a great player. But I prefer speed on the wing and a second striker behind Timo Werner who is a No. 9. Someone playing around him. How he's playing, Thomas Muller at Bayern Munich with [Robert] Lewandowski.

"But we have other options, and it's nice for the coach when you have 10 or 11 players sitting next to you, and you have quality." 

Germany opens its World Cup on June 17 against Mexico and will also play Sweden and South Korea in Group F.

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