Good evening Vienna...

OK, so we have what looks like a team line-up for tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Austria in Vienna; deprived of the services of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose, Jogi Löw is also without defensive midfielder Sami Khedira (unable to recover from a thigh injury) and Christian Träsch (twisted ankle) – squeezing the squad down to eighteen. Lukas Podolski – who was also a doubtful starter – has been passed fit, and the starting eleven named on the Kicker website has a very unfamiliar look to it.

Neuer – Lahm, A. Friedrich, Badstuber, Aogo – Rolfes, Kroos – T. Müller, Özil, Podolski – Gomez

In goal, Manuel Neuer is a mainstay, and so long as he remains fit looks set to hold the position ahead of René Adler and Tim Wiese. Germany’s regular Torhuter has also signed a five year contract with Bayern München, which should keep him right at the top of the game.

The defensive line-up has always been something of a problem, and the back four has a mixture of both experience and youth. The Mannschaft’s only thirtysomething Arne Friedrich lines up alongside skipper Phillipp Lahm, with Dennis Aogo and Holger Badstuber completing the quartet. I perhaps would have started with Benedikt Höwedes, but clearly the Nationaltrainer knows better.

The pairing in defensive midfield is where the real test will come however – with the withdrawal of regular first choice picks Schweinsteiger and Khedira, there is a new partnership in Simon Rolfes and Toni Kroos. The pair started together against Uruguay and looked solid enough, but a Sunday evening friendly is not quite the same thing as a qualifier against Austria. Having returned to the side after almost two years, Leverkusen skipper Rolfes looked solid, while Kroos has yet to really impress in a position that has for a number of years belonged to his Bayern team mate Schweinsteiger.

The three men who line up just behind sole forward Mario Gómez are all first-choice selections: Thomas Müller had a good run-out against the Uruguayans, while Mesut Özil was responsible for setting up André Schürrle’s strike in an impressive first-half outing. The on-form Schürrle is perhaps the unlucky man here, with the coach retaining his faith in Lukas Podolski who completes the attacking midfield trio.

Up front there is the one man – Mario Gómez. Had Miroslav Klose been fit the Bundesliga’s top scorer would have started on the bench, but having scored an impressive and excellently-taken opener against Uruguay he must clearly see this has an opportunity to supplant Miro as the leading front-man. I am expecting “Super Mario” to net at least a couple of goals in these two games.

Hopefully, my post-match report will be from the apartment in Le Touquet, from where we head to the “Domstadt” Köln… Bis bald, tschüß!

Good evening Vienna…
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