Germany the team to beat in Russia: Ricken
Former Germany winger Ricken tips Loew's men to retain title
Former Germany international Lars Ricken has a message for Die Mannschaft's rivals ahead of the World Cup in June: Defeat us if you want football's Holy Grail.
The 41-year-old, who scored for Borussia Dortmund in their 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in 1997, believes that Joachim Loew's men are "big favourites to retain the World Cup".
Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back crowns.
Ricken, who is in Singapore on a promotional trip for the German Bundesliga, believes joining that exclusive club is a strong motivation for Die Mannschaft.
Speaking at the Bundesliga's Singapore office in Duxton Hill yesterday, he told The New Paper: "The big motivation for Germany is to repeat the victory from 2014.
"We're not only the current World Cup winners, but in the summer, we also won the Confederations Cup and the European Under-21 Championship.
"That shows we have a great pool of talented players on the one hand and, on the other hand, some very experienced players who played at World Cup 2014 - like (Toni) Kroos, (Jerome) Boateng, Mats (Hummels), (Sami) Khedira and (Manuel) Neuer.
"There is a great mix of young and experienced players. If another team want to win the World Cup, they will have to beat Germany. I think we are big favourites to win the World Cup."
The Confederations Cup and Euro U-21 Championship ran concurrently last June and July and revealed the depth of talent in the German ranks, with neither title-winning side selecting any of the World Cup 2014 stars Ricken mentioned.
Loew's experimental Confederations Cup side, in particular, has been a platform for several fringe players to stake their claims for a first-team spot.
Bayern Munich's Niklas Suele and Borussia Moenchengladbach's Matthias Ginter have shown themselves as viable alternatives to the centre-back axis of Hummels and Boateng.
Julian Brandt of Bayer Leverkusen has won six caps since the tournament, while fellow winger Leroy Sane has emerged as perhaps Germany's most dangerous creative outlet.
On current form, the Manchester City player ranks ahead of Julian Draxler and Mesut Oezil, who have not had the best of seasons at Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal respectively.
Germany's striker woes were also addressed at the tournament, with Timo Werner and Lars Stindl topping the goalscoring charts at the Confederations Cup, alongside Leon Goretzka, with three goals.
But if there is any position which highlights the depth of talent in Germany's ranks, it is between the sticks.
Loew is blessed with two world-class goalkeepers in Bayern No. 1 Neuer, who has missed much of the season through injury and Barcelona No. 1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Germany's first choice at the Confederations Cup.
Loew also has Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, Paris Saint-Germain's Kevin Trapp and Liverpool's Loris Karius at his disposal.
When TNP asked Ricken if Germany had the best goalkeepers in the world, he replied: "If Germany stands for something, it is for good goalkeepers...
"I hope Manuel Neuer is fit enough to play at the World Cup. But if he can't play, we have ter Stegen, who plays for Barcelona, so he's always playing at a very high level in La Liga or the Champions League."