Hyderabad: Syed Naeemuddin, former Indian captain and centre back, said that Germany are the team to beat in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia and added that the the European nation has one unique quality which many other teams don’t and that is that they depend mostly on the home grown talents.
“Germany is the team to beat in my opinion. The main reason for that is they build their team around the home grown players. In the past, we saw the German team revolved around the likes of Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose etc. The preparations started in the 2006 World Cup and it ultimately paid dividends in 2014 when Germany lifted the World Cup.”
Naeemuddin, who coached Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting, said even though most of the 2014 World Cup players have called it a day, the core members from the winning team in Brazil still continue to play a big role. Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller form the nucleus of the team and to add to that the young stars like Sebastian Rudy, Nicklas Sule and Timo Werner have made a big mark in the recent years. This team, in my opinion, will be the one to watch out for,” he said.
The former Indian coach also stated that even though there will be a lot of individual talent on display, the showpiece event in Russia will be dominated by two very familiar names, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“We will see a lot of great players in this tournament like Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Neymar and Eden Hazard. But ultimately, two players will steal the spotlight and they are Ronaldo and Messi. In many ways, this will be their last chance to win the big cup,” said the former defender.
He also hoped to see the ebullient Egyptian striker Mohamad Salah fit in time for the World Cup. “He has the class and talent to shine in the big stage.’’
Being a centre-back himself, it’s no surprise that Naeemuddin named his favourite player to former Germany captain, Franz Beckenbauer.
“The way Beckenbauer played in defence during his time was revolutionary. He was the player who instigated the attacks from his own half. He had wonderful vision and his passing technique was superb. Not to forget, he was the greatest defender of his time.”
“Then comes the Dutch maestro, Johan Cruyff. I really loved the Netherlands team from 1974 when they had the great Rinus Michels as coach. He in my opinion transformed the game of football and all the beautiful passing football we see nowadays, it’s all down to his brilliance”, concluded Naeemuddin, who is an Arjuna and Dronacharya awardee.