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International Friendlies: Germany v Spain: A Combined XI

Friday 23rd March 2018

Germany and Spain are set to meet tonight at the Dusseldorf’s ESPRIT Stadium. The two most likely favourites to win the World Cup later in the year face each other to begin preparations for the same. Joachim Low’s side has a better head-to-head statistics winning nine of 22 games (6 draws). Do the math. Their most recent encounter ended in Die Mannschaft’s favour one-nil in 2014. Prior to that was a World Cup semi-final in 2010. Carlos Puyol’s strike after the hour mark sealed things for the Fiery Reds.

Germany will be without Neuer, Reus,  Schurrle and Gotze. Julen Lopetegui has dropped Alvaro Morata, Juan Mata, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Marc Bartra. The Germans are currently on a 21-match unbeaten record, winning all 10 games in the qualifying rounds, being the only second team to do so after Spain in 2010. It remains to be seen whether both these face each other in Russia. La Furia Roja will be facing Argentina while Germany will clash against the 2014 World Cup runners-up Brazil coming Tuesday.

Here’s a star-studded combined XI (4-3-3). Only players fit and available for selection are picked.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United/Spain)

David De Gea is the crystal clear pick for the number 1 spot here. And with Manuel Neuer out since long due to an injury, the pick is more firm as ever. Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a fine keeper but deserves a spot on the bench only when David is available. The Manchester United shot-stopper has managed 19 clean-sheets in 36 appearances in England and Europe combined.

Right-back: Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern Munich/Germany)

Kimmich is the best full-back in Germany. He can probably be ranked along with the likes of Dani Alves, Kyle Walker and Antonio Valencia. Dani Carvajal has slightly dipped his form this year. Kimmich has been Philipp Lahm in disguise both for country and club. He has scored thrice in just 25 games for Germany, two of which came in the World Cup Qualifiers. Kimmich was involved in nine goals (the most by any player) in the qualifying rounds. The 23-year-old has managed 90% pass completion rate and 12 assists across competitions.

Centre-backs: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/Spain), Mats Hummels (FC Bayern Munich/Germany)

The Los Blancos skipper, after missing their match against Girona, remains a doubtful option making way for his Spanish teammate Azpilicueta. To partner with the Spaniard, the former Borussia Dortmund captain- Mats Hummels makes the cut.

Hummels is finally finding his feet at the Allianz Arena under Jupp Heynckes after suffering a rough patch in the initial stages of the season. Though Niklas Sule is emerging in the German camp, he is no match for the experienced Hummels. Jerome Boateng, on the other hand, has been affected by several minor injuries missing a lot of games for the Bavarians.

Azpilicueta has been in a phenomenal run for a couple of seasons. His consistency qualifies him to be here even over vintage Gerard Pique. The 29-year-old has managed an 88% pass completion rate this season and 2.3 tackles per 90 in the PL (the most amongst the pool of defenders available for selection).

Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea/Spain)

The uncapped Chelsea star is not better than his senior Jordi Alba but definitely would more feasibly suit in this XI. The duo of Alonso-Azpilicueta has done wonders at the Stamford Bridge and would be expected to replicate the same for their national side in the friendlies as well as the World Cup. If Alonso plays, he would be representing the third generation of his family for the La Rojas. He is an amazing dribbler of the ball and a set-piece specialist. Alonso has netted six goals in the PL this season (the most by any full-back in Europe’s top-five leagues).

RCM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Germany)

Kroos is a package any manager would desire to have at his disposal. His perfect understanding of the game and long-shot penchant sets him apart from the rest. The Real Madrid midfielder has scored 12 goals for the national side. Bayern-bound Leon Goretza is decent but can’t match his feet with the German talisman. Sami Khedira and Ilkay Gundogan are unlucky mates.

LCM: Saul Niguez (Atletico de Madrid/Germany)

Niguez has proven to be the driving force behind Atletico’s season run. He is a reliable midfielder who creates numerous chances when in possession and presses high while defending. Picking him over Andres Iniesta is clearly due to speculation of Iniesta being rested. Thiago, being injured, and with the absence of Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Juan Mata, it was clear to pick the Atletico star. Koke surely won’t mind getting snubbed for his teammate. Not really.

CM: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal/Germany)

Ozil is going through a rough patch of form for his club side.  We can’t blame him for this as nobody at the Emirates is playing to their potential. His vision and ability to create chances is unmatchable. For the records, he is the fastest to assist 50 times in the PL. Isco has been performing quite well under Zinedine Zidane but lack of game time has surely contributed to his inconsistency.

Right Winger: David Silva (Manchester City/Spain)

The Sky Blues’ vice-captain is still at the peak of his prowess. His creative mindset is an asset to any team. Silva has been a pivotal part of the Spanish international side ever since his debut in 2006. He is the fourth highest all-time goal-scorer for his nation in 118 matches, just three behind the third- Fernando Torres.

Left Winger: Leroy Sane (Manchester City/Germany)

Sane is the man to watch this extended season until the World Cup. He seems to follow his boss, Pep Guardiola quite sincerely. The advice to play FREELY like Messi seems to have worked for the lad. Amazing on the ground with the ball, pin-point accurate crosses, and a nightmare for the PL defenders. The 22-year-old has netted 12 goals and assisted 15 times in all the competitions this season.

Striker: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig/Germany)

It’s unfortunate for the likes of Marco Asensio, Isco, Iago Aspas, Lucas Vasquez and Thomas Muller to not find a place here. Sandro Wagner has been given quite a few opportunities but is yet to prove his mettle. Diego Costa is enjoying football in the Spanish capital but it is in due time that we will witness the same old version of him. Mario Gomez missed the spot as the veteran has been the second-best German striker behind Timo Werner in the Bundesliga. Werner is the man here with 17 goals this season. All eyes will be on the German youngster to display his spirits at the ESPRIT Arena today. Nevertheless, is he coming to Premier League soon?

Harsh Vardhan

A pilot in the making residing in India, Harsh is also an ardent follower of European football and his heart resides in Manchester, particularly the blues. He has deep passion for writing, with special admiration for combined-elevens, while also contributing to the sports column of a local daily.

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