(Over the next month or so, we’re going to be doing previews for all 32 teams participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Yes, all 32 teams. We’ll make you laugh, cry, get mad and perhaps question why you read us in the first place. We hope you enjoy the product nonetheless)
Injuries suuuuucck. I mean, they really suck. And if you’re a supporter of the German national team, then having injury rob you of Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus is really really crappy.
Marco Reus is perhaps the difference maker for Joachim Lowe’s side, the only player who can possibly grab a game by the scruffs and take over, and while this squad is deep on attacking midfielders, there is no one of Reus’s caliber. The closest player to that is Julian Draxler, but again, he’s no Reus.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)
Without Reus, the German creativity will have to come from Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. Ozil is perfectly capable of doing that, provided he is provided with runners who can latch on to his passes.
Germany will most likely lineup in a striker less formation, with either Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze or Thomas Mueller as the false nine. Lowe comes to Brazil with only one out and out striker in 36 year old Miroslav Klose. They might run into some trouble if teams decide to drop back against them, since their only alternatives to Klose are center backs Mats Hummels of Dortmund and Per Mertesacker of Arsenal, whose only attacking attributes is that they are tall. (Germany is slowly turning into Spain, it looks like.)
Of course, if Germany’s problems in front were giving you pause, be forewarned: Germany’s defense is sort of a disaster too. While they are set in the center of defense, full backs are another issue altogether, manifested in the question of “Who plays on the side that Phillippe Lahm doesn’t?”
All indications point to Germany’s only other natural full back, Bayern Munich’s Erik Drum, playing on the left with perhaps Bayern centre back Jerome Boateng also filling in when necessary.
Seeing as though this season has seen Lowe emulating Pep Guardiola in putting Lahm in midfield, that might be necessary.
Germany isn’t short on defensive midfielders, but the problem lies in the fact that none of them come into the World Cup fully fit. Real Madrid’s Sami Khdeira, perhaps the most physical presence in Nationalmannschaft, only came back recently, and he looked awful in Lisbon during the Champions League final. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s health is also in question, and the Bender twins, Sven and Lars, have been ruled out through injury.
Having said all of that, Germany have enough quality to make it out of the group stage, even in a packed group such as this. Bastian Schweinsteiger absolutely relishes playing against Portugal, demolishing them every time they play, and the United States may or may not be managed by a German spy. (Talking about the USA’s chances of winning the World Cup as being unrealistic? When you’re drawn with your home country? NAZI!)
However, with all of those injuries, what was once a favorite to win the World Cup may just barely be able to limp into the semis.