The squad of twenty-seven players taken to the training camp in Italy is now down to twenty-six, following the withdrawal of gritty midfielder Lars Bender thorough injury. The absence of the Bayer 04 Leverkusen defensive midfielder leaves Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw with the task of dropping just three players before the final squad is named on June 2nd.
While there remains an abundance of riches in the offensive midfield with far too many quality players to choose from, the defensive midfield is now starting to look just a little bit shaky. The first choice partnership of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira is not at all rock solid with Bayern’s talisman enduring an injury-hit season and the Khedira only returning to fitness after more than six months on the physio’s bench, while as the latest defensive midfielder to drop out of the side Lars Bender follows his brother Sven and the much-missed İlkay Gündoğan.
One has to wonder what move Löw will make if one or both of his first choices fail to make it through the training camp in the Tyrol and the penultimate pre-tournament friendly against Cameroon on the eve of the squad deadline. Borussia Mönchengladbach youngster Christoph Kramer, not one of Löw’s original thirty names, may well end up in a head-on battle with SC Freiburg’s versatile Matthias Ginter for the slot vacated by the unfortunate Bender.
With the team currently in Passeiertal in the South Tyrol, the meeting with Cameroon in Mönchengladbach will be the coach’s final opportunity to see his charges in action before he has to submit his squad of twenty-three to FIFA – and while for many the squad has a somewhat preordained look about it there are four players on the fringe who will have everything to play for. These are Ginter, Kramer, Sampdoria central defender Skhodran Mustafi and young Borussia Dortmund left-back Erik Durm.
Of the four, I fancy Ginter to get the nod, but another solid display in the Nationaltrikot at his home ground may see the twenty-three year old Kramer snatch that coveted ticket to Brazil.
Barring injury, here is my projected final twenty three with squad numbers:
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (1), Roman Weidenfeller (12), Ron-Robert Zieler (22)
Defenders: Jérôme Boateng (20), Kevin Großkreutz (2), Benedikt Höwedes (4), Mats Hummels (5), Philipp Lahm (16), Per Mertesacker (17), Marcel Schmelzer (3)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (14), Matthias Ginter (15), Mario Götze (19), Sami Khedira (6), Toni Kroos (18), Thomas Müller (13), Mesut Özil (8), Lukas Podolski (10), Marco Reus (21), André Schürrle (9), Bastian Schweinsteiger (7)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (11), Kevin Volland (23)
Following the naming of the final squad on 2nd June the team with gather in Mainz for the final friendly against Armenia, and the day after that will head out to the base at Camp Bahia, located some eight kilometres north of Santa Cruz Cabrália on the Atlantic coast. They will then have just over a week to acclimatise before their opening Group G game against Portugal in Salvador.