Current world champions Germany are set to open the defense of their title away to Norway, as Joachim Low’s side begin their quest to become the first team to win successive World Cups since Brazil achieved the feat by triumphing in the 1958 & 1962 editions of the tournament.
Fine blend of youth and experience to German squad
The 23-man German squad which Low has selected to face Norway contains 10 players who were members of the country’s 2014 World Cup triumph. Those are Manuel Neuer, Shkodran Mustafi, Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze.
By combining some of the players from Germany’s successful campaign in Brazil, with a group of technically gifted youngsters, which include Julien Brandt, Emre Can, Joshua Kimmich, Kevin Volland and Julian Weigl, Low aims to mastermind a successful start to his team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Qualification campaign to test Germany’s strength
That is to consist of ten games as in addition to Norway, Germany will play double-headers against Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and San Marino, with those due to take place between now and 8 October 2017.
On that day, Germany will conclude their qualifying campaign with a home fixture against Azerbaijan.
Prior to then Low will endeavor to ensure his team amasses a sufficient number of points to automatically qualify for the finals in Russia, although achieving that constitutes a stern challenge, given the quality of Germany’s qualification opponents, one of whom are Norway.
Norway aim to end prolonged wait to participate in a major finals
Despite being relatively inexperienced in terms of their collective number of international caps, Per Mathias Hogmo’s Norwegian squad is extremely talented and contains many players who featured prominently for Norway as they narrowly missed out on qualifying for Euro 2016 by losing 3-1 on aggregate to Hungary in the play-offs.
As such determined to avenge that disappointment, Hogmo’s team embark upon their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign hopeful of progressing to a major finals for the first time since Euro 2000 when they were eliminated at the group stages.
The last time Norway qualified for a World Cup finals was 1998 when, under the guidance of Egil Olsen, they reached the second round before losing 1-0 to Italy. In order to earn the right to play that game, Norway went through the group stage undefeated as they drew with both Morocco and Scotland, before beating Brazil 2-1.
Match of great importance to both sides
Subsequently not for some time have Norway played a game of that magnitude, with their match against Germany in Oslo being as high profile as any they have played since last participating in the World Cup finals in 1998.
Similarly the match assumes great importance to Low’s German side, as they seek to commence their World Cup defense with not only a favorable result but also performance.