Germany is turning the page after its colossal World Cup failure, and it's calling on a few new faces and one very infamous Russia 2018 snub.
Leroy Sane is back in the fold for Joachim Low after being left out for the World Cup, while teenage midfielder Kai Havertz and defenders Thilo Kehrer and Nico Schulz have earned their first senior national team calls for the first UEFA Nations League match against World Cup champion France and a friendly against Peru.
A number of stalwarts, including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, forward Thomas Muller and center backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, are among the 17 2018 World Cup players who are still in the mix.
“As far as the immediate future is concerned, it’s important that we make some changes in the team,” Low said upon revealing the team. “We have to find the right balance between experienced players and young, energetic, hungry players.”
That balance appeared lost at the World Cup, where Germany was unable to beat Mexico and required a last-gasp free kick from Toni Kroos to edge Sweden before being bounced in the group stage in a loss to South Korea to cement a horrific title defense.
Germany's squad is noticeably without a pair of veteran forwards who have stepped down from international play in Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is also not included after removing himself from consideration following the racist backlash he received for a photo taken with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The other player in that photo, Ilkay Gundogan, has continued on with Germany despite vocalizing his support for Ozil's cause.
The opening match, on Sept. 6, will put the last two World Cup champions against one another and kick off play in the new Nations League competition, which is designed to foster a more competitive atmosphere than traditional friendlies. Germany and France are in a group with the Netherlands in League A, the highest of the four four-group distinctions in the Nations League. The winner of each League A group will advance to the semifinals, where it will have the chance to be crowned Nations League champion. The last-place finishers in each group will be relegated to the tier below, while the winners of League B's groups will all be promoted to the top level and so on down through League D.