Injuries could cause Germany squad reshuffle by Low
Germany go into this year’s World Cup in Brazil as European favourites to lift the trophy at 11/2, and are behind only hosts Brazil and their South American neighbours Argentina with Coral.
Joachim Low’s side is made up of a largely youthful setup, with only four players aged 30 or over been picked for national squads in the last 12 months. However, many potential members have been injured this season and risk losing the race to make the roster.
One veteran, though, who is a crucial member for Germany is the country’s joint-top scorer (with 68 goals in 131 appearances) Miroslav Klose.
The current Lazio player will have just turned 36 by the time of the finals, but is still going strong and remains his nation’s leading striker, with not much competition.
Klose, who got four goals in his six qualifying games, is a 33/1 shot to be tournament top scorer for the second time – after achieving that feat in 2006 on home turf.
His only competition up front seems to be seriously lacking, with former Bayern Munich teammate Mario Gomez (50/1) managing just nine league games for current club Fiorentina all season due to injury, and could to miss out.
The other contenders don’t spring much hope either, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling, who has 15 Bundesliga goals this season, having fallen out with Low. Uncapped Pierre-Michel Lasogga, whose side Hamburg are relegated-threatened and Max Kruse (50/1) of Freiburg are the only realistic options.
Despite the lack of strikeforce, Germany are riddled with talent in other positions. One decision Low could make is to leave out a recognised forward all together, and use Thomas Muller (33/1) as a false nine.
The 24-year-old, who won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup in South Africa, played in all the qualifying matches mainly on the wing, but utilised furthest up front occasionally.
Andre Schurrle (50/1), Marco Reus (50/1), Mario Gotze (50/1), Mesut Ozil (80/1) and centurion Lukas Podolski also provide excellent options in attack and, if Muller is used up front, three of them would be utilised in the starting XI as support.
There had been talk that Germany’s qualifying top scorer Ozil, with eight from 10 matches, could be omitted form the final 23-man squad, due his poor second half of the season form for Arsenal, but that is now highly unlikely. He is too crucial for Low to be left out.
Germany are well stocked in centre midfield as well, with the likes of recently Bayern duo 101-capped Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, as well as Sami Khedira (Real Madrid) vying for two positions.
The two Munich players look favourites to start, however, as the latter has just returned to the bench for for club after a serious knee injury. Khedira still should get the call-up, though, and will provide excellent backup, along with Bender brothers Lars (Bayer leverkusen) and Sven (Borussia Dortmund) and Ilkay Gundogan (also of Dortmund).
Both Gundogan and his clubmate Bender are also struggling with injury, but should be fit for the finals. In the waiting, however, is 18-year-old Schalke attacking midfielder Max Meyer.
Low has even recently hinted that his inclusion to the provisional 30-man squad, to be announced on May 8th, is possible.
“I’ve liked Max Meyer for many weeks now,” the long-term Germany manger said said. “He’s technically very strong, has no hang-ups and he’s going to go a long way. I’m keeping an eye on several Schalke players.”
Other players from the Gelsenkirchen club who will be looking for a call-up are wonderkid winger Julian Draxler, who has failed to impress this season on the whole, and young midfielder Leon Goretzka. The latter is likely to miss the final 23-man cut, though.
In defence, the Germans are also strong, starting with captain fantastic Philipp Lahm at right back. It is hard to believe that the Bayern star is still only 30 years of age, but will go into his third World Cup in great form and confidence, having helped steered his club to the Bundesliga title.
Lahm’s Munich teammate Jerome Boateng and Arsenal giant Per Mertesacker will likely start in the middle, while Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer should get the left back berth ahead of Marcell Jansen (Hamburg).
Centre defenders Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) and Benedikt Howedes (Schalke) provide excellent backup. Freiburg’s sole capped youngster Matthias Ginter is also in with a shout, meanwhile, with Howedes another German who has occupied the sidelines for much of the season.
The goalkeeping position is a certainty. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), who is arguably the best stopper in the world at present, will be the number one.
Quartet Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Rene Adler (Hamburg), former Manchester United’s Ron-Robert Zieler (now Hannover) and future star Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Monchengladbach) battle it out for the other two spots.
Germany have been placed in Group G at the finals, along with tough opposition Portugal, Ghana and USA – managed by former national hero Jurgen Klinsmann. They are odds-on both to finish top of that pool (1/2), and qualify (1/8), however.
They have been eliminated from the semis in the last two World Cups, and are priced at 7/2 to exit at that stage again.