While anticipation for Germany’s World Cup opener against Japan continues to build, Hansi Flick is already having to deal with injury problems affecting his side after the DFB revealed that Leroy Sané would miss the tournament due to a knee injury he sustained in the final training session.
Even before announcing his 26-man squad, Flick had to deal with injuries to Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) and Lukas Nmecha (Wolfsburg), all of whom would have made the final squad.
Because of the Bureau of FIFA Council’s decision to increase the squad size to 26, this means there was a place for Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug, the highest-scoring German in Europe this season. There’s also a place for Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday – both players made their Germany debut last week.
Speaking ahead of Germany’s opening game, Flick has already confirmed that Manuel Neuer will start and that fans can assume that Joshua Kimmich would play in midfield.
There’s no doubt that Flick will field a 4-2-3-1 but even the back four doesn’t pick itself. Niklas Süle could start at right-back – where he’s played much of the season with Borussia Dortmund – which would mean a defensive partnership of Antonio Rüdiger and Nico Schlotterbeck, or Flick has the option of starting Thilo Kehrer on the right-side.
The main uncertainty before the match is to decide who starts in attack. Jamal Musiala will be in contention to start in his first World Cup appearance alongside Gnabry, while Sane will be out, Muller would be an option as well as Chelsea‘s Kai Havertz and Füllkrug of Werder Bremen.