Joachim Low believes Germany will be the 'hunted' at World Cup 2018
World Champions looking to be first side for 56 years to retain the title when they start their challenge in Russia in June
Joachim Low believes Germany will be hunted "like never before" when they attempt to become the first team for 56 years to successfully defend the World Cup in Russia.
Brazil, who lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in 1958 and 1962, were the last team to win back-to-back titles, but Germany's manager says his squad must show the necessary hunger to repeat their Brazil 2014 triumph.
"Germany will be hunted like never before, and near-superhuman forces will be needed if we want to end up becoming world champions again," Low told reporters on Thursday.
Low sees Brazil - who beat Germany 1-0 in a friendly in Berlin in March, - Spain, England, France and Argentina as Germany's main threats at Russia 2018.
"Only us, as world champions, have anything to lose," he added.
Germany have reached at least the semi-finals of every major tournament since the 2006 World Cup finals with Low in charge.
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Under his stewardship, Germany have cemented their reputation as a tournament team capable of raising their performances for the big occasions.
The 58-year-old stepped up from his role as assistant to replace Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach in 2006 and Germany went on to finish as runners-up at Euro 2008, then third at the 2010 World Cup.
His crowning moment was when Mario Goetze scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final.
However, Loww enhanced his status in Germany by winning the 2017 Confederations Cup, beating Chile 1-0 in the St Petersburg final, despite his brave decision to take an inexperienced squad to Russia and rest his star players.
His reward was a contract extension which will carry him through another four years.
Meanwhile, Manuel Neuer will be the first choice keeper at next month's World Cup if he makes the final squad, team manager Oliver Bierhoff has confirmed, even though the 2014 World Cup winner has not played a competitive game since September.
Neuer missed almost the entire season after breaking a bone in his foot and undergoing surgery. His comeback for Bayern Munich was repeatedly delayed and the 32-year-old has had no match practice ahead of the tournament starting in Russia on June 14.
He played in both recent training matches against Germany's Under-20 team at their training base in Italy and is set to play in their friendly international against Austria on Saturday.
"Manuel will go to the World Cup as our number one," Bierhoff said. "If he makes the squad then Marc-Andre (ter Stegen) will be number two."
Low has picked four keepers, including Barcelona's ter Stegen, Paris Saint-Germain's Kevin Trapp and Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, for his 27-man preliminary squad, which will be cut to 23 on Monday.
"Manuel is already full on track. He does not need to get back on it. All the players have left a big impression here and it is as very difficult decision," Bierhoff said.
"On the evening before the team announcement there will be the final thoughts among the coaching staff. By noon the next day the players will be informed."
The Germans, who also face Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen on June 8 in their final warm-up match, are in World Cup Group F with Sweden, South Korea and Mexico. The tournament starts on June 14.
Updated: May 31, 2018 05:49 PM