December 14, 2017

Is Kevin Volland a World Cup Wildcard?

June 2, 2014 was not a good day for Kevin Volland.

It was on that day when the then-Hoffenheim striker received devastating news from Bundestrainer Joachim Löw:  he, along with Marcel Schmelzer and Shkodran Mustafi, had been cut from the final World Cup roster for the upcoming finals in Brazil.

The rest, as they say, is history as Germany went on to win a fourth world championship following Mario Götze’s dramatic winner against Argentina.

Fast-forward to the present day and you find Volland at Bayer Leverkusen, once again pushing for a place in the national team squad for next summer’s title defence in Russia.

Joachim Löw opted to only take two recognised strikers to Brazil last time around in the form of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, but it could well be that there is space this time for a bit more variety in the forward line.

Volland made two brief substitute appearances in 2016 in the World Cup qualifiers against both San Marino and Northern Ireland and also got 30 minutes in the 0-0 friendly draw with Italy in November of the same year. Thus far the 25-year-old has 10 appearances and one goal to his name internationally.

As it stands in the Bundesliga as we approach the Winterpause, Volland is the leading German scorer with nine goals. Based strictly on goal-scoring form, he should be the first name on the squad sheet when it comes to the striker berths.

“I think his statistics speak volumes” Leverkusen trainer Heiko Herrlich has said. “He is on fire in front of goal. His development is going in the right direction. Also, how he’s worked has been something quite special.”

Volland scored a brace against both Freiburg and Hamburg and has bagged five in the last six Bundesliga games, the latest which came at the weekend against Borussia Dortmund.

Embed from Getty Images

The Competition

It would seem logical that RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner would go to Russia as the first-choice striker, given his performances in the qualifiers. However, the options are open regarding a potential second out-and-out forward, as opposed to leaving the role to someone like Thomas Müller, who can play a number of attacking roles.

Werner has seven goals from twelve Bundesliga appearances. Hoffenheim’s Mark Uth also has seven. It could be a real long-shot for Volland to make the squad, with the likes of Mario Gomez, Sandro Wagner, and Lars Stindl as competition.

The Tale of the Tape

Werner Volland Wagner Stindl Gomez
Appearances 12 14 11 14 9
Goals 7 9 4 4 1
Assists 3 1 2 2 2
Total shots 32 28 26 32 19
Shot Accuracy 53% 65% 52% 52% 31%

The next fixtures for the Nationalelf come in March, when Germany faces heavyweights Spain and Brazil in friendlies. If Volland maintains his scoring form, until then, it will be difficult for Löw to overlook him. The disappointment at missing the glory of 2014 would be eased should Volland make the trip to Russia next summer.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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