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How could Germany line-up at Russia 2018? Coral predicts future XI

After the news that World Cup winning coach Joachim Low has extended his Germany contract until 2018, Coral writers put their thinking caps on.

Low’s project will be boosted by the raft of Die Mannschaft starlets waiting in the wings for a chance to shine. With some of the ‘old guard’ still likely to be recruited for Russia as well, how could next generation Germany shape up for the 2018 World Cup (which they are 5/1 to win)?

Here’s what we reckon…

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer
Barring any Iker Casillas-esque implosions, incredibly confident ‘sweeper keeper’ Neuer should still be Germany’s number one, and will be only 32 by the time Russia rolls around. It’s hard to see promising young guns Marc-Andre ter Stegen or Timo Horn pushing past the Ballon d’Or-nominated stopper, but they should be experienced back-ups by then.

Right back: Shkodran Mustafi
Future full backs look scarce compared to other positions, and it will be a tough task for any player to replace legendary Philipp Lahm.

A centre back by trade, Mustafi made a World Cup start at right back and may be best placed to develop there ahead of other defensive prospects that have since been tested in the position, such as Antonio Rudiger.

Right centre back: Mats Hummels
Luckily, Hummels’ game does not rely on pace. The Borussia Dortmund captain is a commanding presence, set piece threat, composed passer and brilliant reader of the game.

His ability on the ball should mean Hummels plays the role of instructor to younger talents and retains a spot at the heart of defence to help Germany build from the back.

Left centre back: Matthias Ginter
Ginter may have endured a difficult start to life at Dortmund, but has much to learn from master Hummels. His mentor will need an energetic and pacy partner in Russia, and there is no reason why aggressive Ginter, who at his best is cool and confident in possession, can not develop into a powerful defender.

Left back: Erik Durm
Much can change over the next four years, but Durm seems to have cemented the left back spot. The youngster has enjoyed three of four starts in that position since Brazil and looks to have won Low’s trust.

This is good news for Die Mannschaft supporters, who were forced to see centre back Benedikt Howedes shoehorned in to that role during the World Cup. The current 27-year-old will surely not have enough pace to play there by 2018, so Low looks to be grooming a long-term replacement.

Central midfield: Christoph Kramer
Liverpool’s composed passer Emre Can certainly makes an intriguing case for inclusion, but tenacious Kramer provides more bite than his compatriot. The Bayer Leverkusen man has the talent, technique and leadership needed to see off both Can and Bender brothers Lars and Sven.

Central midfield: Leon Goretzka
Bastian Schweinstieger should at least be close to hanging up his boots by 2018, and Goretzka is at the forefront of a thrilling Die Mannschaft future. Ilkay Gundogan may be best placed to act as a creative anchor for now but, with his injury record, composed and clever Schalke conductor Goretzka should have the chance to make the position his own.

Left attacking midfield: Mario Gotze
Gotze may have already struck a World Cup winning goal, but the 22-year-old talent’s best is yet to come. By 2018 the Munich magician should have developed under patient Pep Guardiola into a consistent match winner. Blessed with a brilliant technique and able to beat players with ease, Gotze has no ceiling.

Right attacking midfied: Marco Reus
Reus missed out on Brazil due to injury and will be determined to make sure he has a place on the plane to Russia, should Germany advance to the finals.

Consistent wide threat Reus’ skillset means he should still be a threat by age 29. Goals, pace, assists and technique – the Dortmund dangerman has it all.

Central attacking midfield: Max Meyer
Majestic Meyer’s recent scintillating display against Real Madrid is just the tip of the iceberg regarding his ability.

The Schalke starlet could certainly surpass older peer Mesut Ozil for dynamism and eventually productivity. Meyer is the cream of the Gelsenkirchen club’s crop, but whether he can beat Toni Kroos to a regular spot is less certain, although he outshone his compatriot, who has made a risky career move to Real, at the Bernabeu.

Striker: Thomas Muller
Low has already maximised Muller’s terrific timing by placing the poacher up top. While not his natural role, Muller may find it difficult to grab a starting spot elsewhere in the side. So, with a dearth of promising young strikers, sharpshooter Muller should still be scoring for fun as a false nine should Germany reach Russia.

Ambitious Muller will be keen to take Miroslav Klose’s title as all-time top World Cup scorer. Currently on 10 strikes, the Bayern academy graduate is six behind but has plenty left in the tank.