Germany left-back dilemma for Löw

Match Day 19 shows why Löw needs to be worried 

The Bundesliga kicked off again this weekend and delighted the fans with 26 goals, surprising results and a few brilliant goals. However, one thing became abundantly clear as German football fans watched their favourite league swing back into action. There might be a considerable amount of time left before the World Cup in Brazil kicks off, but German national team coach Jogi Löw probably has a headache, which won’t be going away anytime soon.

Germany’s choices for left back are currently all out of form or injured. Marcel Schmelzer found it impossible to deal with André Hahn on Augsburg’s right side at times, whilst Marcell Jansen was involved and (at least) partly to blame on all three goals that HSV conceded to Schalke this weekend. To make matters worse, it seems highly unlikely that Dennis Aogo is coming back from his injury in time to regain form and be anywhere near good enough to be part of Löw’s squad before Die Nationalmannschaft start challenging for the title in Brazil.

Unexplored and non-viable options

Löw has tried different options at the left back, however, none of them have put in convincing display, which would have alleviated Löw’s worries about this particular position. After all, most Die Nationalmannschaft fans are probably not looking back fondly on the days of Heiko Westermann, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber playing at left back.

Despite Löw’s experiments at that this position, he has overlooked a couple players who, at least, should have gotten a look at left back. For example, Eintracht Frankfurt’s left back Bastian Oczipka did warrant a call up given his form during the first half of last season. Another option that has been suggested as an alternative is Borussia Dortmund’s Kevin Großkreutz; however, whilst Big Kev might serve well as a utility player, there is doubt on whether or not he’s actually an improvement on the other alternatives at hand.

Lahm’s position

Die Nationalmannschaft’s captain Philipp Lahm has played on this position before, however, he doesn’t seem to be keen on a return on the left hand side. Pep Guardiola has used the defender in a midfield role at Bayern and Lahm himself stated in an interview with Der Spiegel that he wouldn’t mind playing in this slot for the national team as well.

A switch of Lahm over to the left hand side wouldn’t negate the problem in its entirety, because Löw would then have to decide who plays as the team’s right back. Benni Höwedes has played there in the past, but hasn’t really excelled in this position. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastian Jung has shown promise in the Bundesliga, but he has yet to play for the national team.

In search of a magic bullet

Whilst being interviewed ahead of a Germany game, Michael Ballack jokingly said that the best thing Löw could do was to reinvent his tactics and drop the left back position altogether and thereby fixing all the worries he had at once. Although Ballack was being tongue-in-cheek, his words clearly illustrate the persistent problem Löw and the German national team have in regards to left back position – problems that aren’t solved overnight.

Löw himself must feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day every time the question regarding the left back position comes up. As things stand, it seems like this question might not go away any time soon – for which Löw partially must take the blame, because he failed to look for viable options during the last couple of years. On the other hand side, there is little doubt that there are precious few good left backs with a German passport playing in the Bundesliga at the moment. How Löw tries to fix this problem is probably going to be one of the key and most exciting questions leading up to the World Cup in Brazil.

How should leave Löw solve this problem? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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