BERLIN (Reuters) - Factbox on the Germany national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup:
FIFA ranking: 1 (till June 7)
Previous tournaments: Defending champions Germany have appeared in 18 World Cups and won the title four times, including the 2014 tournament in Brazil. They are the only nation to have placed third or better in every decade of the World Cup since its creation in the 1930s.
Considered the ultimate tournament team, they have reached the semi-finals or final in every tournament since 2002 and are the most consistent side over the past four decades.
Coach: Joachim Loew The unassuming former assistant of Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann, until 2006, has risen to become one of the most successful Germany coaches of all time. In his 12 years in charge Loew has led Germany to at least the semi-finals or final in every competition they have played.
They won the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2017 Confederations Cup with his trademark attractive attacking football while also benefiting from an unprecedented wealth of talent generated by the country’s youth academies.
Loew has set a number of German records in his 12 years in charge, including for the most wins by a national team coach with 106 out of 160 matches.
He is also set to overtake Sepp Herberger’s record of 167 matches as head coach.
Toni Kroos: The brain and engine behind Germany’s game. Almost every move goes through Kroos who regularly has the most ball contacts and passing accuracy that can reach 100 percent.
The midfielder, who has enjoyed remarkable success in the last five years, having won the World Cup as well as three Champions League titles with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, also enjoys going forward and has a powerful shot.
Marco Reus: When fit the speedy but injury-plagued winger can have a devastating impact on the game. After yet another long absence he single-handedly kept Borussia Dortmund in the top three of the Bundesliga with his goals and assists this year and on track for a Champions League spot.
Reus’s pace and the simplicity of his game are crucial for Loew’s attacking plan. The 28-year-old is desperate for his first World Cup having missed the 2014 tournament due to an injury suffered on the eve of the team’s departure to Brazil. He also missed Euro 2016.
Timo Werner: The young RB Leipzig forward is expected to be the first-choice striker for Loew, ahead of the more experienced Sandro Wagner and Mario Gomez.
A great finisher with 11 goals in the Bundesliga this season, the 22-year-old needed no time to find his footing in the national team, having an even better scoring rate than in the league with seven goals in 12 internationals.
Form guide: Germany completed a perfect qualification, winning all 10 matches and conceding only four goals in the campaign.
They were unbeaten for 22 matches since their Euro 2016 semi-final loss to France before the run ended with a 1-0 friendly defeat by Brazil in March.
How they qualified: Germany breezed through qualification, topping Group C 11 points ahead of second-placed Northern Ireland.
Prospects: Germany have set their sights firmly on a title defence with Loew saying they will be the hunted ones. They are expected to get through their group, which includes South Korea, Sweden and Mexico, without major problems.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond