Bundesliga starts to watch at Russia 2018

With just over a week until the start of the World Cup, all 32 sides have now fully divulged and released their final 23-man squad selections. Whilst many players who ply their trade in the Bundesliga will be representing and attempting to retain the tournament crown for Die Mannschaft, others will be appearing for their own respective nations. Below is a list of five Bundesliga regulars who will be worth watching in Russia 2018:

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5- Ludwig Augustinsson

Club- Werder Bremen

Nation- Sweden

Position- Left-back

The Werder Bremen left-back has enjoyed a seamless progression to Janne Andersson’s Sweden side, having represented every age group between appearing for the under-17’s in 2009 to debuting for the senior side in 2015.

After his first two senior appearances in friendlies against the Ivory Coast and Finland, he was rated as the best Swedish player in the respective encounters by national newspaper Sportbladet.

A back-to-back Danish Superliga and three-time Danish Cup winner with Copenhagen, Augustinsson signed for the 2004 Bundesliga champions in January 2017, choosing the German side over a number of other suitors.

A quintessential modern full-back, the 24-year-old possesses quality in possession with pace, an excellent left foot, and is also regarded as a set piece specialist.

Augustinsson’s consistency and reliability will be a valuable asset for manager Andersson, who will endeavour to oversee qualification for Sweden from a tough group featuring Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

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4- Julian Brandt

Club- Bayer Leverkusen

Nation- Germany

Position- Winger

The young Bayer Leverkusen winger has been selected by Joachim Löw into Germany’s final 23-man squad following an impressive campaign that has cemented him as one of the Bundesliga’s rising young stars.

A World Cup call-up, nine goals from 34 domestic appearances and a public accolade from Rudi Völler describing him as “one of the most talented players in German football” is not a bad return for the 22-year-old this season.

Having joined Leverkusen from Wolfsburg’s youth academy in 2014, Brandt was involved in Germany’s 2016 Summer Olympic Squad and had also been part of a youthful national side who were victorious in last year’s Confederations Cup.

A sturdy attacking midfielder, Brandt possesses an effortless first touch and burning pace with excellent vision and crossing ability.

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3- Timo Werner

Club- RB Leipzig

Nation- Germany

Position- Striker

The 22-year-old striker is one of Joachim Löw’s brightest young hopes, having spearheaded RB Leipzig’s recent rise in the Bundesliga with 21 goals scored in each of the last two seasons as well as 7 goals in 10 international appearances in 2017.

Boasting blistering pace and clinical finishing abilities, Werner’s rapid growth has been highlighted by the fact that he holds the record for being the youngest player to reach 100 and 150 Bundesliga appearances.

With an array of top-level experience for a prospect so young, the RB Leipzig forward will be one of Die Mannschaft’s most potent offensive weapons as they embark on the defence of their World Cup crown in Russia.

He will also have the enviable task of replacing Germany’s record goal-scorer Miroslav Klose (71) who tops the World Cup finals scoring charts and had been working with the national side setup, prior to his recent appointment as Bayern’s new under-17 coach.

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2- Marco Reus

Club- Borussia Dortmund

Nation- Germany

Position- Left Wing/Striker

It may well seem that Marco Reus has been involved in the German national team setup for a long time now.

However, this summer’s tournament is due to be the 29-year-old’s first ever World Cup experience after having missed Brazil 2014 and more recently Euro 2016 due to ankle and groin injury problems respectively.

Indeed, Russia 2018 will represent Reus’ first major summer competition opportunity since Euro 2012.

The Borussia Dortmund winger is highly regarded by Joachim Löw, and after ending the Bundesliga season with nine goals to his name, his manager expressed his relief at Reus’ return to Die Mannschaft; “He’s so able, he makes it looks so easy and playful. His timing is spot-on, even his passing. He’s making a really good impression, and he’ll play against Austria. Marco’s like a rocket!”.

Löw was true to his word in the subsequent 2-1 friendly defeat in Austria, giving Reus the chance to make his first international appearance as a substitute since March 2016.

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1-Thomas Muller

Club- Bayern Munich

Nation- Germany

Position- Forward

As Germany not only enter Russia 2018 seeking to defend their title but aim to move level with Brazil as the most successful country to win the tournament (five titles), they will look to their most effective, reliable and crucially, clinical player in Thomas Muller.

Their marksman will be looking to add to his impressive total of 10 world cup goals, with half of that tally notched in Germany’s victorious summer of 2014 in Brazil.

The Bayern Munich forward arrives at the tournament off the back of another imposing campaign that saw him register more assists (14) than any other Bundesliga player.

While arguably not being the most aesthetically pleasing or flamboyant individual in the competition, Muller’s professionalism, versatility, willingness to compete and in-game intelligence appropriately labels him with the “delivers on big occasions” reputation.

Having being used as the lone forward in Low’s adaptation of the false nine in 2014, Muller is expected to play a supporting role behind Timo Werner in a 4-2-3-1 formation this summer.

Follow Hal on Twitter @HalWalker

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