It’s difficult to believe how quickly the last few months have gone – maybe it has been the exceptionally decent weather. When I last looked at the match countdown there would be more than ninety days until Germany’s opening friendly of the 2013/14 season against Paraguay – now it is less than ten.
So here we go, with the first squad of the new season and something of a shift back to normality after the strange journey by the German B-Mannschaft across the Atlantic back at the end of June. From the makeup of this squad, it appears that Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw is pretty serious about building momentum before the next round of World Cup qualifying matches – and what should hopefully be the smooth run-in to Brazil 2014.
So, let’s get a look at those who have made the twenty-one man squad for next week’s match in Kaiserslautern, and the list of ins and out.
In goal, regular Manuel Neuer is back in, with René Adler at number two. It’s back to the sidelines for Ron-Robert Zieler and Marc-André ter Stegen, with the latter being particularly disappointing during the two-match jaunt in the US.
In defence there is a wholesale shipping out and shipping in, with only Schalke 04 skipper Benedikt Höwedes, HSV’s Marcell Jansen and Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker left from the list of transatlantic tourists. Out go Dennis Aogo, Andreas Beck, Heiko Westermann and Philipp Wollscheid, and back in come the FC Bayern München duo of skipper Philipp Lahm and Jérôme Boateng, and Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer.
The midfield also sees a clear return to the established order, with none of the Neulings making the cut. İlkay Gündoğan, Sami Khedira, Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Marco Reus are back in, while Kevin Großkreutz, Aaron Hunt, Nicolai Müller, Roman Neustädter, Stefan Reinartz and Sidney Sam are put back on the waiting list.
Up front, ACF Fiorentina’a new signing Mario Gómez replaces the unlucky Max Kruse alongside veteran Miroslav Klose, who was one of the few new boys to impress on the summer B-Team tour.
From this squad selection it is pretty clear that the coach means business, and the line-up is surprisingly string for an August early season friendly. While there are no real surprises, some of the new boys blooded the US could well be disappointed – particularly Borussia Mönchengladbach’s new signing Kruse. Meanwhile, Lukas Podolski – whom some critics have described as Joachim Löw’s pet – remains part of the furniture despite a string of ordinary performances in the Nationaltrikot.
Paraguay have been consistent performers at the FIFA World Cup in recent years, but this time around appear to have suffered something of a slump. Rock-bottom of the nine-team South American qualifying group, they have only managed a paltry two wins out of twelve matches played and are pretty much out of contention. With Germany expecting to field a full-strength starting eleven, one has to expect them not only to win, but win comfortably.
René Adler (Hamburger SV, 12/0)
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München, 38/0)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 29/0)
Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04, 14/1)
Mats Hummels (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 24/1)
Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV, 39/3)
Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München, 98/5)
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC, 90/2)
Marcel Schmelzer (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 11/0)
Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen (14/3)
Sven Bender (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 4/0)
Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04, 6/1)
İlkay Gündoğan (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 7/1)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF, 39/3)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 41/13)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF, 46/14)
Lukas Podolski (Arsenal FC, 110/46)
Marco Reus (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 15/7)
André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 24/7)
Mario Gómez (ACF Fiorentina, 58/25)
Miroslav Klose (SS Lazio, 127/67)