At this point right now for German national coach Jogi Low it is all about the roster. Is there ever another thing national coaches focus on?
Facing criticism from the English media Low denied yesterday the theory of a second string team playing at Wembley and made clear what he is up to:
“It’s definitely not a B-team in any respect, and there is no lack of respect towards our hosts. Speaking of whom: in November 2008 we hosted England in Berlin and England played without the likes of Rooney and Gerrard and Lampard, and beat us 2-1. There is no such thing as a B or an A-team for us,” Low said on yesterday’s press conference.
The German manager continued: “It was clear for me that I would use these two matches against Italy and England to try out a few new players, a few upcoming players, in key positions.”
“And what better test for these upcoming players than playing to a partisan crowd of 80,000 English fans spurring their own team on? I needed to experiment a bit,” Low said, “and sent home some of the players who are firmly established.”
Some players are set if they won’t suffer a major injury or a surprise decline of performance over the next months. Low’s roster includes Manuel Neuer between the goalposts, Philipp Lahm wherever his spot may be, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil.
Unsurprisingly Low sent those players home.
Ozil’s Gunner colleague Per Mertesacker will most likely get a starting job too. Other players are definitively flying with the team to Brazil but their roster spot will decided by how good they are playing and how good and how fast injured players like Lukas Podolski of Arsenal, Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez, Manchester United targets Ilkay Gundogan and Sami Khedira will get back.
These players are: Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Andre Schurrle from Chelsea, Mario Gotze and Manchester United target Marco Reus and maybe both Bender brothers, but most certainly one of them – probably Arsenal target Lars Bender.
The rest of the roster spots are up for grabs. German manager Joachim Low is keen to see at least five players making a step forward tonight in the friendly against England.
The Guardian wrote about this topic: “The goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, midfielder Sven Bender, left-back Marcel Schmelzer and centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels will be given the chance to impress against England, in a team Low believes still has significant room for improvement.”
Nothing wrong with that, but let us add two and discuss one:
The best goalkeeper in the world in Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer is more then set, but Low is not sure about Neuer’s substitutes. The formula might be one young prospect, Ron-Robert Zieler or Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and one veteran, Rene Adler or Roman Weidenfeller. As Adler's club is playing at the bottom of the Bundesliga table and in no international tournament, Low might call Borussia Dortmund’s Weidenfeller, who will be the oldest German international goalkeeper novice. Weidenfeller’s performance at Borussia Dortmund is undisputable but Low will like to see how he fits in with the team.
Simple: Is Sven Bender able to fill the void, which is left after Sami Khedira suffered a injury? Bender impressed before, but will he do it in a new spot with more pressure as well?
I see no indication why Low won’t test the highly praised €45m Manchester United target tonight. After Draxler’s downfall early in the season, the 20-year-old has to prove his skills on the pitch. Is Draxler really capable of playing at a high level and stepping into Ozil's shoes?
Jerome Boateng, Marcel Schmelzer and Mats Hummels. These players are accountable for the biggest weak spot in the team. Low is looking for more stability from those three to get his defence improved. Interesting side note: Marcell Jansen from Hamburger SV might be the most consistent one after Per Mertesacker but is not good going forward.
Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, Germany’s favourite attackers, are suffered long standing injuries. If they won't come back: Who will fill their shoes if Low won’t like to play Arsenal’s Ozil, Thomas Muller or Mario Gotze as a False 9? Will Max Kruse establish himself as reliable true striker for the team?
image: © tjuel