In one of four test games ahead of the World Cup, Germany will face Chile (Wednesday 5 March). To everyone’s surprise, Löw gave four new players their debut and brought back some familiar faces.
Hamburg’s Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter, Sampdoria’s Shkodran Mustafi and Augsburg’s Andre Hahn have all been called up for the first time in their careers. Lasogga and Ginter had previous featured for the U-21s and have ben in fantastic form this season while Mustafi was a European Champion at that level in 2007 with players like Mario Götze, Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Hahn meanwhile has been in smashing form with Augsburg and a big reason they are pushing for a European spot. He has 10 goals and 5 assists on the campaign so far and already linked with a move to bigger clubs.
“Mustafi and Ginter we have been watching with the U21s already. Like Lasogga and Hahn, they have earned their nomination. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to get to know them and see them around the rest of the national team,” said Löw. The Germany coach hopes to use the four new faces to find different alternatives and experiment ahead of the finalizing of World Cup squads. “We now have the opportunity to try and find different alternatives and solutions. That’s why we decided to call up new players who in the last couple of weeks and months put in consistent performances for their clubs.”
Lasogga will provide cover to Miroslav Klose up front in the continued absence of Mario Gomez. The two have been compared as similar striker types and Lasogga is believed to be one of the players who will fill the void after Klose’s retirement after the World Cup. Hahn will provide further competition in the wing forward area. He has been one of the league’s best performers on the right for Augsburg and will push, along with Sidney Sam, for a place in Brazil. Mustafi and Ginter will provide some much-needed defensive cover in the absence of Benedikt Höwedes and Mats Hummels who are still racing to reach full fitness.
Along with the debutants, Löw brought back some veterans. First and foremost is the return of Bastian Schweinsteiger who has not participated in national team training camp since October last year and just recently returned to full fitness with Bayern Munich. Despite other alternatives and Ilkay Gündogan’s recent rise to prominence Löw reiterated still how important he is to the team, “Bastian is making good progress, and he showed that at Bayern recently. We all know how important he is to the team. He is an absolute world class player who can make the difference for us in Brazil. I know how hard he is working to be in the best shape come the summer.”
Roman Weidenfeller has also been recalled to back up Manuel Neuer and so has his Dortmund teammate Kevin Grosskreutz who has not been with the national team in two years but has been one of the stand out players in the league so far. He filled in for Lukasz Piszczek at right back and may just keep that position under Löw for the remainder of the test games. Also returning are Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose who were out with injury during the last international cycle. Still out with injury are Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller, Sven Bender, Sami Khedira, Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Julian Draxler, Benedikt Höwedes while Rene Adler and Max Kruse have been left out due to dipping form.
Löw puts an even greater emphasis on preparation and wants his players to treat the preparation games with absolute concentration, “We all have to come together and make this team successful. In the last weeks I personally spoke to all my players. Many are still injured or just getting back to their normal rhythm. Right now we have a lot of players who are injured or haven’t played in a while and in the history of World Cup success key players were always in good form.” With a huge talent pool and squad to choose from, Löw has put the onus on the players to distinguish themselves and reach maximum form before the summer.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern München), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund)
Defense: Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm (both Bayern München), Matthias Ginter (SC Freiburg), Kevin Großkreutz, Marcel Schmelzer (both Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV), Per Mertesacker (FC Arsenal), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria Genoa)
Midfield: Lars Bender, Sidney Sam (both Bayer Leverkusen), Mario Götze, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger (all Bayern Munich), André Hahn (FC Augsburg), Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski (both FC Arsenal), André Schürrle (FC Chelsea)
Forwards: Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Hamburger SV), Miroslav Klose (Lazio Rome)
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