Build-up in Basel

So, the Euros are fast approaching, and the first of the pre-tournament friendlies is upon us. With Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw needing to trim his preliminary squad of twenty-seven down to the final twenty-three, the time has come for some of those players on the fringe of the squad to play for their place in the final line-up.

Today’s match-up against Switzerland in Basel and next week’s game against Israel in Leipzig will be the make-or-break moment for most of players on the fringe of the squad, and with this in mind Löw has named a starting eleven without any of the eight players from Champions’ League finalists FC Bayern München – all of whom are expected to make the final cut.

There has been some speculation as to which four players will be dropped, an issue that has over the past few weeks become less than clear-cut. Some of the players I half-expected to be dropped have impressed during the Mannschaft’s pre-tournament training sessions in Sardinia, and there may be a few surprises when the final squad is named before the final send-off in Leipzig.

Today’s starting XI according to Kicker Online is as follows:

Wiese – Höwedes, Mertesacker, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira, Gündoğan – Reus, Özil, Podolski – Klose

Im Tor: Tim Wiese

In goal, Tim Wiese will win his seventh cap – and one will hope it will be a case of lucky seven as his has so far been unable to be on the winning side in any of his previous matches. The Werder Bremen stopper – who will be starting for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim next season – is a solid performer, but one who is there simply as the elder statesman to support the younger ‘keepers. He is not expected to start in the Euros, but should be the number two to the immovable Manuel Neuer.

The back four: Benedikt Höwedes, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer

It is in defence where the Mannschaft have the biggest potential problems, and the back four will be closely watched. Schalke 04 skipper Benedikt Höwedes will be looking to cement his place in the final twenty-three as a backup at either right or centre-back, Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker – now one of the sides veterans at the age of twenty-seven – will be looking to prove his fitness and bring experience to the squad, while BV 09 Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels will be looking to for a spot in spot in the starting XI when the bigger games kick off in the Ukraine next month.

The biggest issue however is at left-back, where Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer is the only specialist in that position with Dennis Aogo not being selected for the preliminary twenty-seven. The Magdeburg-born youngster has had an excellent season for BVB but has never really shone at national level, and these pre-tournament matches should present an opportunity for him to not only prove his worth but to secure the hard-to-fill berth at left back. Of course, this would allow skipper Philipp Lahm to play in his preferred position at right-back.

The Defensive Midfield Backbone: Sami Khedira, İlkay Gündoğan

Unlike in defence there are plenty of riches in this part of the field, with FC Bayern München duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos expected to be the front runners. Real Madrid CF’s Khedira has had an impressive season with Jose Mourinho’s Primera Liga outfit and will be vying for a starting sport alongside Schweinsteiger, while BVB’s Gündoğan – expected by many to be one of those to be cut from the squad – has been one of the more impressive players during the pre-tournament training sessions. There will certainly be a battle for a place in the squad here.

The Attacking Midfield Trio: Marco Reus, Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski

Again, there is so much available talent for the Nationaltrainer here that it probably hurts. VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach winger-cum-striker Reus has had a hugely impressive season in the Bundesliga and will be a serious rival for Thomas Müller’s spot out on the right, and given his goalscoring prowess might even be seen as a possible backup up front. I am looking forward to seeing Reus come into his own at national level – he hasn’t quite managed to find his moment yet. That said, I would expect him to easily make the final squad.

Out on the left Arsenal’s new signing Lukas Podolski – another one of the squad’s late twenty-something veterans – has had an excellent season playing for a weak 1. FC Köln team, and just as his place was looking under threat is looking like the hungry Poldi of 2006 – but a far more mature one. He will be looking to cement his place in the starting XI, with Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s André Schürrle hot on his tail.

In the middle of this attacking trio is of course Mesut Özil, who when fully fit will always assume this position. Like his Real Madrid colleague Sami Khedira, Özil has had an impressive season in Spain, and should keep the talented youngster Mario Götze seated on the bench in Poland and the Ukraine.

In der Sturmspitze: Miroslav Klose

Completing the 4-2-3-1 line-up is the old man of the side – Miroslav Klose. The 114-cap veteran has had something of a renaissance in Serie A with SS Lazio, but during the latter part of the season has suffered a bit with injury as to put his starting place in doubt. The Mannschaft are incredibly thin on the ground in terms out out-and-out strikers, and Klose will be looking not only to keep FC Bayern München’s prolific if inconsistent Mario Gómez on the bench but prove that he can maintain his fitness during what will be a very hard tournament schedule.

The Swiss as always should prove to be worthwhile opponents, and will present a line-up that will contain a number of names familiar to the German players. Among the starting XI will be VfL Wolfsburg ‘keeper Diego Benaglio, 1899 Hoffenheim’s new signing Eren Derdiyok and the next potential superstar in Xerdan Shaqiri – who will line up next year for FC Bayern München. The Swiss are of course coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Bayern coach.

This preview is based on the Kicker line-up, though I am now hearing that the Real Madrid dup may not start. The game is not being shown live here in the UK, so the first post-match report will be a little thin – though the game is being recorded for me in Germany so there will be full report at some point…

Build-up in Basel
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2 thoughts on “Build-up in Basel

  • May 26, 2012 at 18:52

    3:5 – it is 1908 all over again! While it was only a friendly, there are serious flaws in the defence. I am not convinced Özil and Götze can play in the same team together.

    • May 26, 2012 at 19:53

      Report to come – agreed about Özil and Götze, I’ve said this before. It has to be one or the other.


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