While Germany manager Joachim Low has already confirmed that Philipp Lahm will remain in midfield for Friday’s quarter-final clash with France, former skipper Michael Ballack has insisted that the captain should be moved to right-back.
Having played most of his career at full-back for club and country, the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich last season has seen Lahm used as a defensive midfielder to great effect, with Low following suit for the World Cup.
After the tournament-ending injury to Shkodran Mustafi, however, Ballack has urged the coach to return the 30-year-old to his natural position, believing Germany possess enough first-rate reinforcements in the middle of the park to compensate.
‘I still believe we need Philipp to play in the back four for Germany,’ he told The Times of India. ‘He is much more valuable there. He has played there for years and has turned into a world-class player and he is one of the best.
‘Why should we rob ourselves of Lahm in a position the whole world envies us for? We, as Germany, only weaken ourselves by playing someone else as a right or left-back'.
‘Lahm is taking away a place in the middle of the park for another world-class player and that's Bastian Schweinsteiger for me,’ he added.
‘Low needs to use Lahm as a wing-back and play in the middle with either Schweinsteiger and Kroos or Schweinsteiger and Khedira.’
Lahm has been ever-present for Germany at every major tournament since the 2006 World Cup, while also boasting a glittering club career with Bayern, captaining the Bundesliga giants to an historic treble in 2012-13.
Following the emphatic 4-0 opening win over Portugal, many had pegged his side as one of the favourites in Brazil, but their performances since have simply not been of the same quality, needing extra-time to overcome Algeria in the last 16.
The upcoming France game posing a tough proposition on paper, Low's decision on the 110-time capped Lahm has come under immense scrutiny over recent days and, should Germany ultimately come unstuck on Friday, then the manager could well be facing even harsher criticism.