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Mar 23, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Esprit Arena
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Combined XI: Germany vs. Spain

Sports Mole selects a strongest combined XI from Germany and Spain ahead of Friday night's international friendly between the two heavyweight nations.

Two of the favourites for the World Cup lock horns in a high-profile friendly at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf on Friday night, as both teams step up their preparations for Russia 2018.

Reigning world champions Germany are once again backed as favourites to go all the way, boasting a squad oozing with talent that leaves many looking on in awe.

One of the few teams to match Die Mannschaft pound-for-pound, it could be argued, is Spain, who will themselves struggle to whittle down their squad to just 23 members come the end of the season.

With that in mind, Sports Mole has selected the strongest combined XI available from both sides, using a 4-2-3-1 formation.


Combined XI: Germany vs. Spain

In terms of depth, there is no beating Germany in the goalkeeping department as they have Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Bernd Leno vying for the number one spot this summer. An injury-plagued campaign for Bayern Munich stopper Neuer has left him in a race to be fit in time for the finals, though, while at the same time David de Gea has been enjoying yet another stellar campaign between the sticks for Manchester United, keeping the opposition out in half of his 30 league outings this term to get the nod in this side.

Plenty of options at full-back for both teams, too, although two names in particular stand out. Joshua Kimmich is growing into one of the finest players in that position anywhere in the world, playing a direct part in 15 goals this season and holding claim to an impressive defensive record. On the opposite flank, Jordi Alba continues to light up Camp Nou down the left and also has the ability to combine attacking play with defensive duties.

Gerard Pique will provide a reliable presence in the centre of defence, meanwhile, having kept 13 clean sheets in 29 league games for Barcelona this term, but there is a debate to be had over who slots in alongside him. Sergio Ramos has the knack of popping up with key goals and is what you would describe as a true leader, and Jerome Boateng boasts the composure required to get the best out of anyone in the backline, yet it is Mats Hummels who is favoured in this hybrid XI after overcoming a shaky opening few months to the season to provide a rock-like presence in the heart of Bayern Munich's defence.

Further forward the ideal defensive midfield would be made up of club rivals Sergio Busquets and Toni Kroos, with the latter having the knowhow to start attacks from deep, much in the same way as Busquets, who has arguably become the finest defensive midfielder of his time. Busquets's absence from the Spain squad, however, means that pass-master Koke can be used in tandem with Kroos. The attack line is comprised of Leroy Sane - enjoying his best campaign yet in what is turning out to be a famous season for Manchester City - Mesut Ozil and David Silva. Creativity will certainly not be lacking with Ozil and Silva involved, and Sane can provide some added pace down the flanks to pull opposition defences apart.

The likes of Iago Aspas, Marco Asensio, Andres Iniesta and Ilkay Gundogan, each expected to feature on Friday night, can consider themselves unlucky to miss out - a similar story when you take into account the options available up top. If it is pure power you are after then look no further than Diego Costa, who is now enjoying his football at Atletico Madrid following a successful stint at Chelsea, but Timo Werner is a man in form thanks to 17 goals in the Bundesliga and Europe this term. Most impressively of all, though, the RB Leipzig man has netted seven goals in 10 internationals for Germany since making his debut almost exactly a year ago.

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Eden Hazard and Gerard Pique in action during the Champions League group game between Chelsea and Barcelona on February 20, 2018
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