I am sure most of you reading this will want to forget the last time Germany played Italy in Dortmund – so Wednesday’s encounter against the Azzurri might offer an opportunity to make up for some of the hurt of 2006.
Having selected an experimental lineup for the last match of 2010 against Sweden, Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw has brought back the big guns for what is a prestige friendly. Much like the great Germany teams of the 1970s, the squad is largely made up of players from two sides: Bayern München and current runaway Bundesliga leaders, Borussia Dortmund. Of the twenty-two man squad, there are six Münch’ner and five from BVB.
While the two goalkeepers retain their place, a strengthened defensive unit sees the return of Dennis Aogo, Holger Badstuber, Arne Friedrich and Philipp Lahm, while Andreas Beck makes way; Dortmund youngsters Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer retain their places in the squad, though it is unlikely either of them will start.
In midfield, BVB starlet Sven Bender makes the squad for the first time, while World Cup heroes Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger return. Making way are Toni Kroos, Marko Marin and FSV Mainz 05 youngsters Lewis Holtby and André Schürrle. Dortmund youngster Mario Götze – who debuted against Sweden – keeps his place in the squad. It is doubtful he will make the starting line-up, but a Khedira-Götze-Özil-Schweinsteiger midfield axis sounds very tasty indeed.
Among the forwards Cacau and Patrick Helmes both miss out, as fit-again Miro Klose returns to the squad along with Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller. The fourth striker is the in-form Mario Gómez, who looks set to start with Klose on the bench.
So here’s my preferred starting line-up: Neuer – Badstuber, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Lahm – Khedira – Götze, Özil, Schweinsteiger, Müller – Gómez
And here’s the full squad:
René Adler (TSV 04 Bayer Leverkusen)
Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04)
Dennis Aogo (Hamburger SV)
Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern München)
Jérôme Boateng (Manchester City)
Arne Friedrich (VfL Wolfsburg)
Mats Hummels (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München)
Per Mertesacker (SV Werder Bremen)
Marcel Schmelzer (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Heiko Westermann (Hamburger SV)
Sven Bender (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Mario Götze (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Kevin Großkreutz (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München)
Christian Träsch (VfB Stuttgart)
Mario Gómez (FC Bayern München)
Miroslav Klose (FC Bayern München)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München)
Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln)
Only fifty thousand or so of the eighty thousand plus tickets have been sold so far, but let’s hope the selection of the five BVB lads encourages local supporters to make their way down to the Westfalenstadion to make things hot for the Italians. With a full stadium, there will be one hell of an atmosphere on Tuesday.
* Signal Iduna Park? Was ist das?