Germany’s 23-man squad of 2014 travelled to Brazil with an immense mix of experienced and youthful talent. Joachim Löw was almost spoiled for choice with veterans like Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm still near the top of their game, while also having the likes of Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, and Mats Hummels among others growing through their prime.
As Europeans, the odds were against the Germans from the start – in fact, until then no World Cup held in the Americas had be won by a team from outside the two continents! Nonetheless, “Die Mannschaft” managed to see off tough opponents and a potentially devastating flu scare to record their fourth World Cup title and, more importantly, their first as a unified nation…
Four years is a long time though, and now in 2018, we ask what has happened to the cast of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad and where are they now?
Read more interesting stats and facts about past winners in our article about World Cup Trends.
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, 32 years old)
Neuer was arguably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time when Germany lifted the World Cup in Rio. He was awarded the Golden Glove after keeping four clean sheets and making 25 saves over the course of the finals, but is now facing a race against time for Russia. He’s spent the majority of his season at Bayern sidelined with a foot injury, and though back in full training, Joachim Löw has already stated he’ll need to get some game-time before the World Cup to hold his spot as ‘Number 1’.
Roman Weidenfeller (Retired, 37 years old)
After 16 years in Dortmund, Wiedenfeller has played his last game for “der BVB” and is hanging up his gloves. While his role in Rio was only as an unused back-up to Manuel Neuer, he will nonetheless be proud to add that World Cup winners medal to his 450 appearances and two Bundesliga titles over his time domestically. Despite those achievements, he has said that the 2013 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich still haunts him.
Ron-Robert Zieler (Stuttgart, 29 years old)
After his inclusion in Germany’s Euro 2012 squad, Zieler travelled to his second major finals as third-choice keeper back in 2014. He is a former Manchester United youth player, though spent six seasons at Hannover 96 over his years at the international level before a season with Leicester City in 2016/17. After making just nine largely uninspiring appearances in England, he moved back to Germany to resume work as Stuttgart’s number one.
See how Germany compare to the other European teams in our article about the Best and Worst Performers in Qualifying.
Philipp Lahm (Retired, 34 years old)
Now-retired Germany veteran Philip Lahm lifted the World Cup as captain of his country, just like the legendary Fritz Walter (1954), Franz Beckenbauer (1974) and Lothar Matthäus (1990) before him. Arguably one of the greatest right-backs of all time, Lahm called an end to his career at the end of the 2016/17 season after recording a whopping 500 appearances and 21 titles over his 16 years as a player. He’s currently an ambassador for Germany’s UEFA EURO 2024 bid.
Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich, 29 years old)
A Borussia Dortmund player at the start of the 2014 World Cup, towering center back Mats Hummels scored two goals during Germany’s run to success four years ago, including the quarter-final winner against France. It was there that Hummels and Boateng’s renowned defensive bond flourished, with the pair later reuniting at Bayern Munich in 2016. He has won two Bundesliga titles and one DFB Pokal title since.
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal, 33 years old)
Arsenal’s “BFG” actually started alongside Hummels for the opening four games of the 2014 World Cup before Boateng was moved in from a wide position in the semi finals. Following the summer of 2014, the ex-Hannover and Werder Bremen giant hung up his international boots, with some 104 caps and a World Cup winners medal to look back on. Now in his seventh season at the Gunners, where he’s a three-time FA Cup winner, Mertesacker is moving on to take a role at the club’s academy from the summer.
Benedikt Höwedes (loan to Juventus from Schalke 04, 30 years old)
Playing at left-back in Brazil, Höwedes was one of four players to feature in every minute of Germany’s FIFA World Cup triumph, even providing an assist for Miroslav Klose to match Ronaldo’s (Luis Nazario de Lima) record of 15 tournament goals. Höwedes is now working his trade in Serie A in Italy on loan at Juventus. A number of injuries has drastically limited the defender’s time on the pitch, however, which has ultimately cost him his place on the plane to Russia.
Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich, 29 years old)
Boateng was playing a much more versatile role at the 2014 finals in Brazil, utilised at both right- and center-back. He was another who played a part in all seven matches of the tournament. Now on his seventh season at Bayern, the Berlin-born German is on the road to recovery from an adductor injury picked up in this season’s UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes says he “expects him to be ready in time for Russia”.
Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal, 26 years old)
Mustafi had some luck to be among the players flying to Brazil in 2014. He failed to make the cut from Löw’s 30-man to the final 23-man squad, but an injury to Dortmund forward Marco Reus saw him get a late call up from the reserve list. Mustafi feature three times in Brazil, before a thigh injury in the round-of-16 win against Algeria ended his tournament. After two seasons at Valencia, the German joined the Gunners in the summer of 2016 and was part of Germany’s winning team at the Confederations Cup last summer.
Kevin Großkreutz (Darmstadt 98, 29 years old)
Großkreutz headed to the 2014 finals as a Bundesliga winner and UEFA Champions League finalist. His versatility as both a right-winger or full-back made him a useful player for Germany to have in their squad, but he failed to get any playing time in Brazil. After a number of controversies at Borussia Dortmund, he was dropped to fourth tier side Borussia Dortmund II before moving on to have spells at Stuttgart and now second-tier Darmstadt 98.
Matthias Ginter (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 24 years old)
Another former Dortmund man, Ginter was actually a Freiburg player when he was called into Joachim Löw’s finals squad. Just 20 at the time, he was the youngest player in Germany’s 23-man squad but didn’t make an appearance in Brazil. Having featured prominently in Die Mannschaft‘s FIFA Confederation’s Cup triumph last summer, the Borussia Mönchengladbach centre-back should have himself a seat on the plane to Russia.
Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund, 26 years old)
Debuting against Cameroon in a pre-World Cup friendly, the 25-year-old was an unused substitute at the 2014 finals in Brazil. He did collect four caps in the EURO 2016 qualifiers thereafter, but the Borussia Dortmund full-back has been unlucky with injuries since. Having failed to play at all this season, Durm is out of contention for Russia.
Read our article on Germany’s 2018 squad to see Joachim Löw’s selections for the World Cup in Russia.
Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund, 25 years old)
Joachim Löw reportedly told Götze to “show the world you are better than Messi” before sending him into the 2014 World Cup final two minutes before the end of normal time. Around 20 minutes later, ‘Super Mario’ netted a remarkable goal to see Germany to their fourth World Cup crown. Germany’s young superstar made the switch from Borussia Dortmund to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern soon afterward, where he won three successive Bundesliga and two successive DFB Pokal titles. But after returning to Dortmund in 2016, a metabolic illness and an ankle injury have seen his playing time plummet. Consequently, he failed to make Germany’s 2018 squad.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire, 33 years old)
Schweinsteiger was the heart of Germany’s midfield in 2014, and no image sums his passion up better than the one of blood running down his face against Argentina in the final. He marked his seventh major finals for his country as captain in Germany’s disappointing EURO 2016 campaign, after which he announced his international retirement. Domestically, he spent two years at Manchester United from 2015, where he made just 18 Premier League appearances, before moving to MLS side Chicago Fire in early 2017.
Mesut Özil (Arsenal, 29 years old)
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil featured in every match en route to Germany’s fourth FIFA World Cup triumph, boasting an impressive 87% pass completion rate (he even got himself a goal in extra time of their quarter finals win over Algeria). Özil has now almost made a century of international appearances, and though he has been heavily criticized for his attitude at Arsenal, he never looks lazy or uninterested when representing his country. His combination of talent and international experience should see him feature prominently in Russia.
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, 28 years old)
Kroos headed to Brazil as a flourishing midfield tactician and left as a global star. He had a fantastic World Cup, starting every game and playing a crucial role in central midfield. He scored twice in *that* 7-1 win against Brazil and the official statistical analyser of the World Cup (Castrol Performance Index) rated him as the best player at the 2014 World Cup, with a rating of 9.79 out of 10. He left Bayern Munich for Real Madrid following the tournament, where he has since won the Champions League twice and La Liga once.
Sami Khedira (Juventus, 31 years old)
Khedira is the cornerstone of Joachim Löw’s midfield, so it would take an untimely injury to prevent him from taking a place in the heart of the German starting XI in Russia. Such a thing happened in the 2014 final against Argentina though, where the then 27-year-old was ruled out in the warm up. Since his move from Real Madrid the summer after that tournament, Khedira has recorded three consecutive Serie A/Coppa Italia doubles at Juventus.
Christoph Kramer (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 27 years old)
Khedira’s loss was Christoph Kramer’s gain when it came to the biggest international match of 2014. Kramer was given a starting berth against Argentina after Khedira pulled out in the warm up. His luck soon ran out though, with a first half collision resulting in concussion and a decision that he was unable to continue playing. His last international cap came in 2016 and he has not been named in Joachim Löw’s 29-man preliminary squad.
Julian Draxler (PSG, 24 years old)
Draxler was just 20 when he travelled to Rio four years ago. His only appearance was as a substitute in the 7-1 thumping of Brazil in the semi-final, and he appeared as unused sub in the final against Argentina five days later. Domestically, he’s moved from Schalke to Wolfsburg and then to PSG between the World Cup win and Germany’s Confederations Cup triumph last year. He won the Ligue 1 title with PSG in his second season there and his record of three goals and two assists in eight qualifiers for Germany should see him as part of Löw’s plans in Russia.
Want to know who “die Mannschaft” could face in the 2018 World Cup? Check out our article on Germany’s Timeline in Russia.
Miroslav Klose (Retired, 39 years old)
Currently the FIFA World Cup all-time top scorer with 16 goals, Miroslav Klose moved past ‘Brazilian Ronaldo’ in the standings by netting twice in 2014 in his fourth appearance at a major international tournament. He retired from the international scene shortly after his nation’s win, also as Germany’s all time record scorer with 71 goals. His footballing career ended in 2016 after five seasons at Lazio and the striker is currently a member of Löw’s coaching staff.
Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich, 28 years old)
Müller is one of the few players that has had seen very little change between the 2014 World Cup and now. He’s still playing and scoring all manner of unorthodox goals for Bayern Munich and recently marked his 100th in the Bundesliga, being a key part of the team that has won six consecutive top-flight titles. His five goals in Brazil saw him finish second behind Colombian James Rodriguez in the Golden Boot race, but with ten goals at World Cup finals, he still has time to beat the record of former-teammate Klose (16 goals).
Andre Schürrle (Borussia Dortmund, 27 years old)
Germany’s impact player at the 2014 World Cup, Schürrle made six substitute appearances, scoring three goals – two of which were in the 7-1 win over Brazil – and one unforgettable assist for Mario Götze’s winner against Argentina in the final. Still a Chelsea player when the tournament kicked off, the 27-year-old moved back to Germany a year after to play at Wolfsburg where he won the DFB Cup, a feat he later repeated at current side Dortmund. Even with his international record (22 goals in 57 appearances), injury problems and a lack of form see Schürrle left out of Germany’s 29-man preliminary squad.
Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe, 32 years old)
One of the best left foot finishers of his generation, it comes as no surprise that Podolski reached third in the goalscoring (49) and appearances (130) categories for Germany’s all-time records before his international retirement. He was an Arsenal player at the time of the tournament, but went on to have stints at Inter Milan and Galatasaray before moving to Japan, where he now plays for Vissel Kobe. Oh, and he also recently returned to Cologne to open a kebab shop as a side project…
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