Germany beat Spain 1-0 in a wet, drab encounter in Vigo on Tuesday to mark Die Nationalmannschaftai??i??s first win over La Furia Roja in 14 years. Although the Germans did not particularly have a great game, a late Toni Kroos strike, a decent display by the young defence and keeper Ron-Robert Zieler helped them to conclude 2014 with a win ai??i?? a deserved result in a year in which Germany saw just one competitive defeat (vs. Poland), ten wins ai??i?? six of which over Argentina, Portugal, Brazil, Spain and France; and one World Cup trophy – not too bad!

However, ever since winning the World Cup, Joachim LAi??wai??i??s side still seemed to have a case of the post-trophy hangover, made even more noticeable by the retirement and injury to leaders Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Although LAi??w has numerous options to replace them, they formed the core of Germany’s national team philosophy and provided the required experience needed. Lukas Podolski’s lack of playing time at club level might cost him his place in the national team, fellow 100 cap veterans Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker have also called it a day following the heroics in Brazil, which leaves the current team lacking in experience and leadership ai??i?? a problem hoping to be resolved by the maturity of Mats Hummels, Thomas MA?ller and Sami Khedira.

The position of Goalkeeper poses no problem, with Manuel Neuer pulling off seemingly impossible saves week-in and week-out. His deputies Roman Weidenfeller and Ron-Robert Zieler are vastly experienced and with a multitude of young keepers waiting for their chance at the international level, no worries here for Low.

With no natural striker in the team now, the trusted formula of using Thomas MA?ller as a number 9 has seemed to work so far for Germany. ‘Gladbach’s Max Kruse and Hoffenheim’s Kevin Volland provide the necessary cover, both of whom have enjoyed great club form and boast of great linkup play in the final third. Karim Bellarabi, who could have chosen to represent Morocco, has impressed during his appearances and provides the needed zip and trickery in attack, thereby justifying LAi??w’s choice of calling him up over ‘Gladbach duo Andre Hahn and Patrick Herrmann.

Another problem of the post-World Cup Germany is lack of authority in the center of the park. Underwhelming performances over Scotland, Ireland and Poland in October leave much to be desired. However, this can be attributed to the absence of Schweinsteiger. With Christoph Kramer, the Bender twins and even Ilkay GA?ndogan looking to return to the team after injuries, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem next year.

In defence, Dortmund left back Erik Durm has not been consistent enough, but with club colleague Marcel Schmelzer out injured, the spot was his, with no doubt, for these six games. Filling the void left by Philipp Lahm is a tough task, made all the more tougher by having a limited number of natural full backs. Bendedikt HAi??wedes and Jerome Boateng are capable of playing on the right side of defence, but considering their excellence in the middle of the back four, Joachim Low was wise in avoiding playing either out of position.

In the six games after July, Low has fielded Kevin GroAYkreutz, Sebastian Rudy, Shkodran Mustafi and Antonio RA?diger at right back ai??i?? all having fewer than 25 caps combined for Germany. Rudy and GroAYkreutz, midfielders by trade, have never put a foot wrong, but also ultimately never left a lasting impression or offer enough potential in the coming years.

However, the rise of VfB Stuttgart’s Antonio RA?diger, has proven that Germany’s right back position is not as barren as it seems to be. The young defender has attracted the attention of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, and with good reason. He may be a tad rash at times, but is a perfect combination of pace and strength, is not afraid to commit to a challenge and as of now, he looks to be the logical successor to Philipp Lahm, considering his performances at club and international level. No pressure Antonio!

With all this said, 2014 was perhaps one of the most successful years of German football and with the EURO 2016 qualification heating up next year, Germany under Low will need to compete with the best to prove that they are capable of dominating the international football scene in the years to come.

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