Germany landed in Moscow on Tuesday June 12,2018 to attempt to successfully defend their World Cup title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan behind them.
The intent is clear -- Germany want to become the first team for 56 years to retain the World Cup. "We want to write history," says Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos.
The Germans took off from Frankfurt in pouring rain hoping captain Manuel Neuer will stay fit after eight months on the sidelines with a foot fracture.
Their buildup was dogged by the controversy surrounding Ozil and Gundogan after the midfielders, who have Turkish roots, were booed in pre-World Cup friendlies for meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
German fans took a dim view of the perceived divided loyalty by booing the pair in a friendly defeat to Austria.
Gundogan has said the meeting was not politically motivated, while Ozil has refused to talk about it during the World Cup.
"This is his statement, I assume he will stick to it," said team director Oliver Bierhoff during the training camp in Germany.
"Whether that is right or wrong is another matter," added Bierhoff, who said the players did not act "maliciously", but had been "naive".
Off-field distractions aside, the Germans arrived well-prepared and are bringing 26 sets of jerseys among their 12 tonnes of equipment
Germany was the only UEFA team to win all its qualifiers and had the best goal difference (+39)