Germany striker crisis no barrier to 2014 World Cup success
Germany coach Joachim Low has only two centre-forwards to call upon for his country’s first international frieindlies since qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Die Mannschaft are slight favourites at odds of 9/5 to beat Italy in Milan, before they go on to face England at Wembley in the second match of their double-header.
The three-time World Cup winners are 5/1 joint-second favourites for next summer’s tournament with Argentina and behind hosts Brazil, but a glance at their striking ranks could be cause for initial concern amongst potential backers.
Low’s current squad contains one centre-forward at the start of his international career and the other surely preparing to compete for the last time on the world stage.
Lazio’s Miroslav Klose is Germany’s joint-top scorer of all time alongside Gerd Muller, with 68 goals in 130 appearances and the 35-year-old could take the title outright with a strike against the Azzurri.
Max Kruse is ten years younger than Klose, plies his trade with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach and has scored once in five games for his country.
Beyond those two, Germany’s only other striker of note is Mario Gomez and the Fiorentina man has not played so much as an international minute since March, due to injuries and lack of form.
With such a paucity of options up front, punters could be forgiven for deserting the well-fancied outfit to scour the market for a team priced-up more appealingly.
However, a glance at recent World Cup winners, as well as Germany’s form during qualification, paints a much more rosy picture for Low and co.
Two of the last four victorious nations, namely France in 1998 and Spain four years ago, came into those tournaments with just as many questions to answer about their striking contingent.
Les Bleus included David Trezeguet and a young Thierry Henry in their squad for the finals 15 years ago, but neither of them started a match beyond the last-16, with soon-to-be Newcastle flop Stephane Guivarch preferred to lead the attack.
Guivarch failed to get on the scoresheet during the tournament, but it didn’t matter as a brace from defender Lilian Thuram against Croatia in the semis and goals courtesy of midfielders Zinedine Zidane and Emmanuel Petit in the final against Brazil ensured the trophy stayed in France for four years.
In 2010, Spanish number ten David Villa and centre-forward Fernando Torres formed a partnership early on in their country’s World Cup quest, but the Chelsea man was omitted from Vicente del Bosque’s starting lineup for the semi-final and final.
Defender Carlos Puyol and midfielder Andres Iniesta scored the only goals in those triumphs and Del Bosque’s propensity to ignore strikers has continued in recent years, with Swansea hotshot Michu the latest midfielder to be given a chance furthest forward for La Furia Roja.
This bodes well for Germany’s chances in Brazil, as Low has a plethora of quality attacking-midfielders and wingers to choose from within his squad.
Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle scored a hat-trick when playing on the wing in their 5-3 win against Sweden and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was the top scorer in World Cup qualifying Group C with eight goals.
Germany are so strong behind the striker that Bayern Munich’s £31m summer signing Mario Gotze spent most of the qualifying campaign warming the bench.
They will be a force to be reckoned with in Brazil and are unlikely to get any longer than 5/1 in the betting between now and then.