The Dilettante's Guide to the World Cup: Germany

Welcome back to TDGTTWC, dilettantes. Your effort to learn the world’s game is commendable, and in the end I promise to reward you with a simple explanation of the offside rule, thus guaranteeing you that which you covet most in the 19th Hole: time as the Big Man. I did tell a small lie, though, which I know is no way to treat a Brole Anderson and the Four Horsemen, but just listen. I’m doing Germany next because I’m falling behind and the World Cup officially kicks off tomorrow, so instead of a Dutch preview I’m just going to jam Robin Van Persie into the Messi-Suarez post along with a picture of hot Dutch chicks. Deal? GO BRO!

Let’s dive in. If Brazil is the Kentucky Basketball of world football then Germany is the North Carolina. With three World Cups, three Euro Cups and three World Cup runners-up, Germany takes a backseat only to Brazil in terms of footballing legacy. They play their football the way they do everything else: meticulously, efficiently and ruthlessly. Watching one of their Bundesliga games can be a little disquieting, maybe even a tad murdery like Hostel or me when I have to watch the E! Network, but there is no denying the wholly awesome power of Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall:

Credit: Men in Blazers (find them on Grantland; they're the best)

Credit: Men in Blazers (find them on Grantland; they're the best)

And before games they do this, which feels a little too “Socialist Party,” but in terms of powerful, intimidating imagery, Germany makes even Soviet Russia look like it's celebrating a perpetual Earth Day.

This year’s version of Deutscher Fussball-Bund (even that makes me quiver a bit) is, along with Spain and Brazil, simply terrifying. Even the injury of the effervescent Marco Reus, a budding star (or, ACHTUNG DIE VERSCHANGLAT, in German), leaves Germany with not 1 or 2 world-class players. It leaves them with 23. They’re like Alabama under Nick Saban. They bring in the next guy and continue dismantling you with the same surgical precision they use to build one of their BMWs or Panzer tanks or V2 rockets or Heidi Klums. They missed World Cup glory in 2010 by one Carlos Puyol header in the semis, and they return a mixture of veterans and young talent capable of beating any team on any day (except Spain possibly, who seems to be their kryptonite).  For my deutschmarks, der Deutscher Fussball-Bund is going to be impossible to stop. I know it will be hard to beat Brazil in Brazil, but if any of you are thinking about placing some bets, toss a couple Euros on Germany for me.

PLAYERS TO KNOW

Honestly, you should know all of them. They all play for major clubs, and they’re all going to make an impact, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll list my favorites below.

Mesut Ozil

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I would call it genuine heartbreak the day my beloved Real Madrid announced they had signed Gareth Bale—at the expense of my second favorite Madridista, the Turkish-born Ozil, whom they sold to Arsenal to mitigate some of the Bale transfer fee. No one in the world—and I mean no one—combines Ozil’s ball skills with his ability to produce perfectly weighted passes into spaces that didn’t seem to be there; it’s like when you hear about Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers throwing someone open. As was the case with Xavi of Spain or Steven Gerard of England or Michael Bradley of the United States of America Bald Eagles of Victory and Justice (both of whom we will cover in future editions of TDGTTWC), if and when Germany scores, which they will, a lot, you’re probably pretty safe in assuming Ozil played a part in the architecture. Put simpler: think Paul, Chris. 

Mario Gotze

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At 22, the best of Gotze is yet to come—which is scary because I predict he’ll win the Golden Boot this year.  Formerly a Borussia Dortmund forward, Gotze transferred to mighty Bayern Munich after the 2013 season for 37 million Euros, which translates into about $7 Gajillion US, making him the second most expensive German player after the aforementioned German Sniper, Mesut Ozil. Get to know him now, dilettante, so that when 2018 rolls around you’ll be able to brag to the hot clubhouse bartender that you were on this guy back in Brazil, and she’ll know that you, my friend, are a stylish American worthy of her copulational prowess.

Toni Kroos

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Yes, he spells his name like the girl who cuts your hair, and yes, he looks like the main McPoyle Brother, but Toni Kroos, who’s just 24, is a stabilizing force in an already stable German midfield. He’s comfortable defending and creating, and has spent the last year developing onfield chemistry with Gotze (and, really, most of the German XI who play with him at Bayern Munich). Watch him.

Manuel Neuer

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Born to mother, Brumhilda Germanlastname, and father, a Third Reich propaganda poster, Neuer definitely doesn’t look like a Manuel. You just need to know him because he’s the goalkeeper, and he’ll be onscreen a lot and because I already had that propaganda poster joke in the chamber.

OTHER PLAYERS TO KNOW:

I’m getting close to a 1000 words (there’s a peek behind the screen), so I’ll wrap this up. Yes, you have homework. You still need to know the captain, Phillip Lahm, central defender Mats Hummels, Lukas Podolski even though that is so a Polish last name, Miroslav Klose, even though that is so a Russian first name, Sami Khedira (Madridista and, like Ozil, Turkish-born),  Bastian Schweinsteiger (Winner: Most German Name, Stuttgart, 2011) and, perhaps most importantly, Thomas Muller.

Stay tuned because I’m literally going to dive straight into England next.