Germany have maintained their perfect World Cup qualifying record and look like the best team in the world. But DW’s Davis VanOpdorp cautions against buying into the defending World Cup champions this early.
On paper, this year's Germany looks better than the one that won the World Cup in 2014.
The team that traveled to Brazil was relying on a then 36-year-old to bang in goals. The team that just qualified for the World Cup has two strikers, Sandro Wagner and Timo Werner, who can do that.
Manuel Neuer looked irreplaceable three years ago. Germany have won nearly every game in 2017 without him.
But with the World Cup still eight months away, it's hard to fall in love with a team that hasn't really been challenged. Germany appear to be the world's best team now, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. When they lineup against the world's best, there is a very good chance they will come up second best.
Deeper than ever
It is futile to question Germany's squad depth after they picked up the Confederations Cup with a "B squad" and the European Under-21 Championship over the summer.
Almost everyone in Germany's current squad plays regularly for his club. Players that were injured earlier this year – Ilkay Gündogan, Leroy Sané, Benedikt Höwedes and Julian Weigl to name a few – have all come back strong from injury.
Germany coach Joachim Löw has a real embarrassment of riches, but he has no evidence all of his riches will amount to anything. On the left, Draxler and Marvin Plattenhardt were not on the same wavelength at all with their other teammates. Marc-André ter Stegen, who could very well start if Neuer is not fit in time for the World Cup, had never operated with both Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, and it showed when Corey Evans nearly scored an equalizer in the first half.
Having a strong team on paper is great, but if games were played on paper, there wouldn't be anything to watch on television.
No peers on the pitch
The toughest opponent Germany faced in 2017 was Chile, who they placed twice in the Confederations Cup. Chile had won two straight Copa Americas and were the bruising, relentless side they were billed to be when they faced the world champions. Germany drew with them in the group stage before beating them 1-0 in the final.
But Chile may not be at the World Cup in Russia. They are in a tough fight with Colombia, Peru and Argentina for the last World Cup spots from South America. There is no use in Germany comparing themselves with a team they may not even face in Russia.
For that matter, Australia and Cameroon, the other two teams in Germany's Confed Cup group, may not qualify either. Australia is locked with Syria 1-1 after the first leg of the Asian qualification playoff, and Cameroon have yet to win in the group phase of African qualifying. Moreover, the only team to really test Germany in European qualifying run was the Czech Republic, and the Czechs are nowhere close to qualifying for a World Cup.
That means, since Euro 2016, Germany have not tested themselves against the world's best. They can schedule all the friendlies they want – like the one against England in November – but simulating intensity is hard to do in a game that doesn't count. It's hard to buy into a team that has yet faced a true adversary.
Germany's perfect qualifying record is commendable, and 2017 was a very successful year. But don't fall too deeply in love with this team. They could break your heart when you least expect it.