Team: Germany

FIFA Ranking: 2

Nickname: Die Mannschaft

With an unbeaten record of nine wins from 10 outings, three-time World Cup champions Germany booked an automatic qualification to Brazil 2014. En route to their feat, Germany hit the net 36 times, securing another record for the most goals by any side in European qualifiers.

Known for their organised defence and compact play, it was their eye-catching and attacking artistry that wowed fans, at the same time convincing everyone why they are rated among favourites to take the title in Brazil.

Following their 4-all draw against Sweden during the qualifiers, coach Joachim Loew said: “We still have work to do before the World Cup, we need to stabilise both our defence and our play in the final third.”

FIFA World Cup history

Total appearances: 17

In the all-time global soccer rankings, Germany lies third with three FIFA World Cup triumphs behind Brazil (5) and Italy (4).

1954: Germany wins World Cup in Switzerland

1974: Germany secures second FIFA World Cup trophy on home soil, led by Franz Beckenbauer

1990: Lothar Matthaus leads Germany to their third triumph in Italy

1966, 1982, 1986 and 2002: Runners-up

1934, 1970, 2006, 2010: Germany gets third place

Impressive World Cup stats about Germany:

Unlike them, no other team has played more matches (99) or scored more goals (222) at the FIFA World Cup finals.

Key players:

Manuel Neuer

Philipp Lahm

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Toni Kroos

Mesut Ozil

Coach: Joachim Loew

Since taking over in 2006, Loew has transformed Die Mannschaft into one of the most feared nations in world football.

Under Loew, Germany qualified for the 2010 World Cup without tasting defeat, a feat the repeated during the recent qualifiers.

Further, he steered Germany to an impressive 10/10 wins of their Euro 2012 qualifiers.

After ensuring Germany books a place at Brazil 2014, Loew’s contract was extended to 2016.

Loew boasts the best record of any Germany manager, with a win percentage of 68.32%.

Country Profile

Germany is Europe’s largest economy with a Gross Domestic Product worth $ 3.4 trillion. The country’s economy represents 5.4 % of the world’s economy. The GDP expanded by 0.8 % in the first quarter of 2014.

The growth is attributed to its exports which include cars, vehicle parts, planes, helicopters spacecraft and machinery. It has not grown this much in three years; it only grew 0.4 % in 2013. . There have been gains from the country’s construction companies.

The unemployment rate has also decreased and inflation has lowered. Analysts predict a growth of over 2% in 2014 however the crisis in Ukraine remains a threat to the country’s economic growth as it is one of the main countries German exports.

German is the official language and is spoken by 95% of the population. Other languages spoken in the country include Sorbian, Danish, Turkish and Romani. Over 62% of the population identify themselves as Christians.

Catholics and Protestants remain the dominant Christian groups in the country. There is also a growing Islam Judaism, and Buddhism population in the country. Germans are the second largest beer consumers in the world.

It is also the most populous country in Europe. Soccer is the most popular sport in the country. The country was a host of the 2006 Fifa World Cup.

• Full name: Federal Republic of Germany
• Population: 82 million (UN, 2012)
• Capital: Berlin
• Area: 357,027 sq km (137,849 sq miles)
• Major language: German
• Major religion: Christianity
• Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)
• Monetary unit: 1 euro = 100 cents
• Main exports: Motor vehicles, electrical machinery, metals
• GNI per capita: US $44,230 (World Bank, 2011)
• Internet domain: .de
• International dialling code: +49

– By Tshepo Tsheole and Lerato Matlala