Belgium and Blue Sweaters

The final European Championship qualifying fixture against Belgium at Düsseldorf’s Esprit-Arena is just over three hours away now, and is live on ESPN here in the UK which means that all of you lucky readers will get your on-the-spot as-it-happens match report as well as live updates through the Schwarz und Weiß Twitter feed – @fussballchef.

Following up on my previous post the popular tabloid Bild has now published its starting XI. While they go with the same 4-1-4-1 formation as Kicker, there are a few differences: while Kicker have gone for a back four consisting of Jérôme Boateng, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels and Philipp Lahm, Bild’s quartet sees Benedikt Höwedes and Holger Badstuber in place of Boateng and Hummels.

Needless to say I continue to be slightly perplexed at Mertesacker being pencilled into the side by both Kicker and Bild; perhaps someone knows something that I – and a good many others – do not. While Merte’s performance was acceptable but hardly earth-shattering against Turkey on Friday – he was hardly tested for most of the game after Germany had taken the lead – there was nothing there to suggest that he should be a first-choice pick at fullback.

Bild have also named Lukas Podolski to start on the left of the attacking midfield trio instead of André Schürrle – continuing a debate that is bound to drag on until the start of the Euros next summer. I actually don’t have any problem with this, as Podolski – who has been in good form so far this season – is a good starter and Schürrle has on many occasions shown himself to be an excellent second-half impact substitute.

Here’s the Bild XI:

Neuer – Höwedes, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Lahm – Khedira – Müller, Özil, Kroos, Podolski – Gómez

Elsewhere, Jogi Löw has auctioned off his famous blue cashmere sweater worn during last year’s World Cup – with €1 million going to charity via the department store chain Galeria Kaufhof – Germany’s equivalent of M&S or John Lewis. The sweater itself will end up on display at the DFB’s new museum in Dortmund, which is due to open in 2014.

Belgium and Blue Sweaters
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