Antonio Rudiger has warned against overlooking Germany's chances of emerging victorious at the World Cup in Qatar, declaring: "You can never count us out".
Having won the 2014 World Cup, Germany mounted a dismal defence of the trophy four years ago as they crashed out in the group stages in Russia following defeats against Mexico and South Korea.
Germany also suffered a last-16 elimination against England at Euro 2020 – Joachim Low's final match before being replaced by Hansi Flick – leading many onlookers to favour the likes of Brazil, Argentina and France for glory in Qatar.
While Rudiger acknowledges Germany's recent form means Flick's men may not favourites for the tournament, he believes they have the talent to spring a surprise.
"Honestly, if we speak about favourites, we have to speak about form. Before the last international break, you look at teams like Brazil and France," Rudiger told The Guardian.
"I think because of our current form, us maybe not so much, but we are a big nation and have a good team. You can never count us out. Anything can happen.
"We don't need to be afraid of anyone. It's football. If you're really tight together it can be very helpful. We have to get the job done.
"We have played many great games. Now it's the big stage. I'm not worried. We have a fantastic group."
Germany's last competitive fixture saw them throw away a 2-0 lead in a thrilling 3-3 Nations League draw with England, and Rudiger says Die Mannschaft must improve defensively in Qatar.
"I watched that game from home," Rudiger said, recalling September's high-scoring draw at Wembley. "I think both teams were not at their best. We need to improve.
"We need to manage the game better. If you're winning 2-0, you cannot give it away in four minutes."
Asked whether a lack of experience in Flick's squad contributed to that result, Rudiger added: "Maybe a little bit. But the goals we conceded were a little bit too easy.
"This has nothing to do with experience – it's just a lack of focus. We are not robots.
"We all make mistakes, but you try to avoid those easy ones where you lack concentration. That's the pressure that comes with this high level. You cannot have this lack of focus."
Germany begin their Group E campaign against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Wednesday.