October 22, 2017

It’s Wagner Time for Die Nationalmannschaft

It’s put up or shut up time for Sandro Wagner.

In December, Hoffenheim striker Sandro Wagner boldly claimed that he was the best forward that Germany had. What followed was a Ruckrunde to forget for Wagner, even as Hoffenheim sealed qualification for next season’s Champions’ League.

Just two goals in the second half of the 2016/17 season gave him a total of 11 for the full campaign. This was the second straight season that the 1899 man scored double digit goals in the Bundesliga. The consistent form has now earned him a spot on Joachim Löw’s Germany roster for the Confederations Cup in Russia.

Löw’s roster for the World Cup warmup tournament can be described best as experimental. Several players, including Wagner will likely earn their first cap for their national team this month.

While all the new faces and the omission of several players that have been stalwarts for the national side will cause intrigue, the most interesting portion of the lineup is in the attack. Not one of the four player listed at the forward position on the German roster has ever played a senior national team game, nevertheless scored a goal.

As deep as the Die Mannschaft has been in recent years, the one thing that they have struggled to produce is a consistent striker. Since the retirement of Miroslav Klose there has been a void, and Wagner believes he is the one the fill it.

At 29-years-old, the former Germany youth international has certainly had to wait for his opportunity, but the long layoff from international competition has clearly not diminished his confidence.

This is the opportunity he was practically begging for when he made his comments six months ago, but he is by no means the only forward jockeying for a place in the lineup when the German team returns to Russia next summer.

Coincidentally wearing the same number Klose once made his own will be Timo Werner. While Wagner boasted he was Germany’s best striker, Werner went out and proved he might actually hold that title the old fashioned way. By scoring a lot of goals.

Werner was one of four players to net 20 times or more this season in the Bundesliga, totalling 21 in RB Leipzig’s magical campaign. He finished 4th in the league, but more significantly, he scored five more goals than anyone eligible to play for Germany’s national team.  

Also significant is that even though Wagner is nearly a decade his senior, Werner has now scored more goals in his Bundesliga career (34) than Wagner (32).

This tournament will give Joachim Löw a lot to think about as he prepares for next summer, but perhaps the most important question he needs to answer is who his striker will be.

Who is the best striker in Germany?

Sandro Wagner has already made his opinion clear, but will his feet be just as loud this month? We will soon find out. One thing is for sure, the striker position is out there for the taking.

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A tight knit family from the small Bavarian village of Kirchzell sparked an interest in the Bundesliga and German culture, even though Chris was born half a world away in New Jersey. A video producer and editor by profession, I talk soccer all day and decided to write it down. @ChrisBrase22

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