The 22-man squad has just been named for next week’s friendly international against France in Bremen, and with the Euro finals fast approaching there are no surprises or new names. The squad has a slightly weaker look to it on account of a number of injuries, with midfield general Bastian Schweinsteiger missing along with Mario Götze, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski.
Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw would probably be most disappointed by the absence of Schweinsteiger, who after recovering fairly quickly from the broken collarbone that had kept him out of the final matches of 2011 suffered ligament damage to his right ankle during a recent Bundesliga fixture; the rest of the mainstays are fit and ready though: skipper Philipp Lahm, playmaker Mesut Özil and strikers Mario Gómez and Miroslav Klose.
So, here’s the squad…
Manuel Neuer (Bayern München, 25 Apps/0 Goals)
Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen, 5/0)
Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV, 9/0)
Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern München, 18/1)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 19/0)
Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04, 6/0)
Mats Hummels (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 12/0)
Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München, 85/4)
Marcel Schmelzer (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 5/0)
Christian Träsch (VfL Wolfsburg, 10/0)
Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 3/0)
Sven Bender (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 1/0)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF, 24/1)
Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München, 24/2)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 25/10)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF, 30/8)
Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 3/0)
Simon Rolfes (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 26/2)
André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 11/5)
Mario Gómez (FC Bayern München, 50/21)
Miroslav Klose (SS Lazio, 113/63)
Cacau (VfB Stuttgart, 21/5)
Apart from the absences caused by injury, the twenty-two-man squad is not much different from that named for the previous friendlies against the Ukraine and the Netherlands. In defence, Lahm – who had been rested for the last two matches of 2011 – is back in the squad in place of Mertesacker, while Sven Bender is fit again and back into the midfield mix. Only two goalkeepers have been named, with Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese being picked ahead of Hannover 96 youngster Ron-Robert Zieler as Manuel Neuer’s deputy.
Even though this is a friendly, it is unlikely that Löw will experiment too much – we are likely to see a similar starting eleven and 4-2-3-1 formation that lined up against the Dutch in Hamburg last November. Of course, there should be some scope for a few experimental changes off the bench should things go to plan.
With skipper Lahm back in the squad we should see Jérôme Boateng move into his preferred position in the centre of defence, more than likely alongside Mats Hummels or Holger Badstuber; the left-back position continues to be problem, and could very well be filled by Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer or Schalke skipper Benedikt Höwedes.
The two-man defensive midfield unit should be the same as against the Dutch with Sami Khedira partnering Toni Kroos in the absence of Schweinsteiger, but the main debate leading up to the game has been about the attacking midfield trio. While there is little question over Özil’s place in the starting eleven, the absence of Podolski out on the left provides an opportunity for André Schürrle, while out on the right it’s a straightforward toss-up between Thomas Müller and the in-form Marco Reus. With Schürrle not showing the greatest form for his club side Bayer Leverkusen, there might even be a possibility of playing the versatile Reus out on the left with Müller running the show on the right.
Should the Nationaltrainer opt for the 4-1-4-1 variation, Kroos would be moved up into the centre of the midfield – though I have never been a fan of this approach as it leaves the single defensive midfielder somewhat isolated.
Up front, it is the same old pick one of either Gómez or Klose, with Cacau as the second off-the-bench option.
Opponents France have always presented a test, and in recent years have become something of a bogey side. The Nationalmannschaft’s overall record against Les Bleus is not great, with seven wins, six draws and ten defeats in the twenty-three matches played between the two sides.
The last time any German side beat the French was in August 1987 – when two first-half strikes from Rudi Völler set things up for a 2-1 win in Berlin for Franz Beckenbauer’s side – but since then the French have had the better of things, winning four of the last five meetings. The last match between the two teams was played in November 2005 at the Stade de France in Paris, which resulted in a goalless draw that ended what had been a four-match losing streak for the Mannschaft.
The home side are set to give their new green and white Trikot its debut at the Weserstadion, which should mean that their opponents will be playing in their all white kit.
Here’s my starting eleven for next week’s game:
Neuer – Lahm (c), Hummels (Badstuber), Boateng, Schmelzer – Khedira, Kroos – Müller, Özil, Schürrle (Reus) – Klose