Well, it’s less than twelve hours until the Mannschaft kick off their first match of 2012 against France in Bremen – and time for an update on the team line-up. Despite rumours circulating that he was not completely fit – watch this space as things may yet still change – Miroslav Klose is all set to start his 114th match for the national team wearing the captain’s armband.
There have been few other changes or fitness issues, but to the surprise of many Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese has been named ahead of Manuel Neuer to start in goal. Wiese has had a season that has matched his club side’s patchy and inconsistent form; on occasion he has looked unbeatable between the sticks but at other times he has been his usual angry and butter-fingered self. Let’s hope the Good Wiese turns up tonight at his home ground.
From the latest reports it looks as though Jérôme Boateng will start on the bench, which means that in the absence of skipper Philipp Lahm the defensive quartet will have a new and arguably slightly weak look to it. Benedikt Höwedes at right-back has had an inconsistent and at times shaky season with his club side Schalke 04, while Marcel Schmelzer at left-back has shown some decent form in the Bundesliga for Dortmund but has for me always failed to impress in the Schwarz und Weiß. In the centre are Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, who on paper should be the strongest pairing available.
The rest of the line-up looks to be in line with my earlier predictions – but should things change again you’ll get all of the details in the pre-match section of my main report written after the match. I am just hoping that Miro plays and can get a little bit closer to Gerd Müller’s goalscoring record – just five to go now.
Laurent Blanc’s French side has an unfamiliar look to it, but Bayern München winger Franck Ribéry is set to start and the bench contains a host of more well-known and established names. Facing a number of his club team-mates, Ribéry is in confident form at the moment – against Schalke 04 at the weekend he scored two well-taken goals, and caused considerable trouble for right-back Benedikt Höwedes.
The German defence will be looking to neutralise the threat posed by the tricky winger, while Höwedes will be hoping for a more solid performance when he crosses paths with the Frenchman again in the new green Nationaltrikot.
The predicted line-ups:
Germany Starting XI: Tim Wiese – Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Marcel Schmelzer – Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos – Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, André Schürrle – Miroslav Klose
Subs: Manuel Neuer, Dennis Aogo, Jérôme Boateng, Lars Bender, Marco Reus, Simon Rolfes, Christian Träsch, Cacau, Mario Gómez
France Starting XI: Hugo Lloris – Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexès, Éric Abidal – Yann M’Vila, Yohan Cabaye – Morgan Amalfitano, Marvin Martin, Franck Ribéry – Olivier Giroud
Subs: Cédric Carrasso (GK), Steve Mandanda (GK), Patrice Evra, Anthony Réveillère, Mamadou Sakho, Alou Diarra, Florent Malouda, Jérémy Ménez, Sami Nasri, Kevin Gameiro, Louis Saha, Mathieu Valbuena