Germany had one of their most impressive showings on Friday, beating Armenia convincingly 6-1 in Mainz in their last preparation match before taking off to Brazil.
The team showed the attacking verve and dynamism that Low was looking for during their preparation and Miroslav Klose also set a landmark, breaking Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record and becoming Germany’s all-time leading goalscorer with 69 goals.
But the match was largely overshadowed by the World Cup-ending ankle injury sustained by Marco Reus. Reus was arguably the team’s most in-form player coming into the tournament and was set to start on the left for Low’s side.
The DFB (German Football Association) announced on Saturday that Reus would miss out on the tournament. In his place, Low surprisingly called up defender Shkodran Mustafi who will take his place as the team departs to their camp in Brazil Saturday evening.
Momentum and confidence boost
Germany scored five goals in the final 18 minutes against Armenia, a flurry of great attacking football that saw multiple players get on the scoresheet. It was the interchangeable attack Low had been training with for the past two weeks and it was on full display in Mainz on Friday.
For what it’s worth, the game will give the players a good confidence boost heading to Brazil, as Low noted after the match:
We reached our goal. We wanted to win the game, get a good rhythm going and fly to Brazil on a high note. When you look at the result we can be completely satisfied. The team ended it on a high note and I think it did the players well to take a feeling of confidence with them. The game can give us some great momentum.
While Armenia didn’t resemble the quality of the teams Germany will face in Brazil, the game did prove that the team is slowly but surely coming into form. Schurrle, Muller and Gotze combined well up front later in the game and Klose’s fitness is clearly improving also.
Can Germany compensate for Reus?
Reus was immediately rushed to the hospital following his ankle injury in the first half against Armenia. The team’s worst fears were realized when he was diagnosed with a torn ankle ligament, ruling him out of the World Cup with just 10 days before their opener against Portugal.
Unlike other player injuries Low has had to deal with so far, Reus was a key player for the team and the most in form player going into Brazil. Reus had some impact sub appearances at the EUROs two years ago and was ready to break out on the international stage in Brazil. Alas, Germany will have to make due without the Borussia Dortmund attacker. Question is, can the others compensate?
Many thought Kevin Volland would replace Reus but Low surprised everyone by selecting a defender:
It was not our plan to have a one-for-one replacement for Marco Reus. Our qualities in that position is very high and with Lukas Podolski, Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler and Toni Kroos we have great alternatives. That’s why we decided for another option in defense instead. Shkodran convinced us in training camp and we have massive trust in him. We know we can rely 100% on him.
Theoretically Germany should be able to roll on without Reus considering the plethora of attacking players they have. In hindsight it makes the Julian Draxler selection a good one and Lukas Podolski’s recent return to form is also promising. But the real question is whether any of those players can step up in the biggest games, something Reus made a reputation for in the last two years.
Time will tell but the omen is not looking good for Germany heading into Brazil. It’s on Löw and the players to prove everyone wrong, use all the injuries and absences as a means to rally around each other and push to not only meet but exceed expectations.
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