After a disappointing Euro 2016 display, during which host nation France managed to knock Germany out in the semi-final stages, the German national side has managed to bounce back from that pain to sit at the top of their qualifying group for World Cup 2018.

Strictly speaking, it is not yet a mathematical certainty that they will qualify from their group, but football fans keen to look at some early World Cup betting odds will likely find their eye drawn by the Germans as they bid to keep hold of the World Cup crown they won in Brazil.

Is It Just A Results Business?

Although Die Mannschaft have breezed through their group so far, scoring 16 goals and managing to avoid conceding in the process, the question has to be asked as to whether they are being sufficiently challenged.

They managed to put eight goals past San Marino, but it could be argued that minnow teams should not even be in this stage of qualifying without a pre-qualifying tournament.

With that even being a discussion, it’s clear that certain games for the Germans have just been about turning up and being professional, rather than looking to showcase their best football. How can we know, then, whether this is a side that has improved significantly since the Euros?

Worryingly, perhaps the best indication we’ve had of a challenge for the Germans was the Italy match late last year, a 0-0 that was fairly forgettable and was actually nearly won by the Italians in the last 10 minutes when Andrea Belotti’s shot came bouncing back off the post.

Should Germany fail to show a higher standard against England in a friendly at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion (and an England side still recovering from the turmoil of sacking Sam Allardyce and replacing him with Gareth Southgate at that), then serious questions might start to gather pace as to whether this German side is running out of steam.

Getting The Details Right

It seems clear, therefore, that the likes of Northern Ireland might not be the best test for Germany during this qualifying campaign. However, these games do need to be used by the Germans to get all of the finer details right. Team cohesion and understanding between players can only develop by players playing with teammates in the national side often enough, and with the right attitude for every minute of every game.

If the German players can work together with talented head coach Joachim Löw to recreate the same ethos and concentrated squad mentality that saw them lift the 2014 World Cup, they will undoubtedly stand a solid chance when they reach Russia.

However, failure to do this by not giving 100% against the weaker opposition left in their group could yet see them derailed in the long-term even as they do breeze through qualifying.