History says no, but Germany has the tools for World Cup soccer repeat

Russia World Cup 2018 countdown—2 DAYS 

Germany's most difficult World Cup opponent might not be on the field in Russia. 

The reigning world champions already have proved they can beat Mexico, the team they play in their group-stage opener, as well as Lionel Messi's Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. They've played France, Spain and England to draws in the past 7 months.

The foe Germany might have trouble overcoming is history.

Since 1938, only one country, Brazil (1958 and '62), has won back-to-back World Cups, something the Germans will be trying to do this summer.

Germany returns 9 players from the 2014 world championship team, but many of those missing were key contributors, among them captains Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm; forward Miroslav Klose, the top goal-scorer in World Cup history; and forwards Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle, who came off the bench to combine on the only goal in the last World Cup final.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, who started all seven games in Brazil 4 years ago, soon could join that list because of a knee injury suffered in last week's game with Austria.

Depth may be Germany's strength. The team won the Confederations Cup — an eight-team, pre-World Cup tournament — in Russia last summer with what was basically a "B" team. But that, too, may be a bad omen; no Confederations Cup winner has repeated as World Cup champion.

4 years ago, Brazil, playing at home, was a strong World Cup favorite, and its players wilted under the pressure, stumbling into the semifinals, where it was pummeled 7-1 by Germany.

Germany appears equipped to handle pressure, given the steady hand at the wheel.

Joachim Low has coached the national team since 2006, guiding it not just to World Cup and Confederations Cup titles but to the semifinals of three consecutive European Championships and a 3rd place finish in the 2010 World Cup. It is arguably the most impressive coaching résumé in international soccer history.

And even after the roster turnover of the past four years, the team Low will lead in Russia will be among the deepest and most experienced in the tournament.

Put it all together — a deep roster, seasoned players, the most successful coach in international soccer with experience in handling pressure — and it's hard not to see Germany defying history by winning again.

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