Two games, two contrasting opponents, one 22-man squad. Yes, it’s that time again.
Germany’s European Championship qualifying campaign picks up again on the 26th of this month with the home tie in Kaiserslautern against Kazakhstan, and nothing less than a convincing victory is expected from the Mannschaft. After a comfortable but workmanlike 3-0 victory in the corresponding fixture in Astana back in October, Jogi Löw’s side will be looking to register their fifth win in five group fixtures and bag plenty of goals in the process.
Three days later the Nationalelf entertain Australia in a friendly in Mönchengladbach, and will be expecting to repeat or better their performance in the World Cup finals last year, where the Socceroos were easily dispatched 4-0.
The squad list for these two fixtures has now been released, and is much the same as that named for the Italy game last month. The few changes see Werder Bremen Torhuter Tim Wiese come in for the injured – and perpetually unlucky – René Adler, while in defence Hamburg’s Heiko Westermann misses out. A ten-man midfield selection sees the return of Mainz’s André Schürrle, while Toni Kroos comes back into the squad for Kevin Großkreutz and both Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski are listed as midfielders rather than forwards.
Leading the line are FC Bayern’s current first-choice and reserve, Mario Gómez and Miroslav Klose. It remains to be seen which one of these will start in the more important game against Kazakhstan: will it be Super Mario – who is clearly the man in form – or Jogi Löw’s tried and tested option Miro? Either way, one would expect both of them to add to their respective goal tallies.
In other news, Jogi Löw and his management of Oliver Bierhoff, Hansi Flick and Andy Köpke have extended their contract with the DFB to 2014, ensuring that the current policy of continuity will remain in place until after the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Short of actually winning a major trophy, Löw’s five years in charge have been outstanding. The statistics by themselves bear this out – he is the most successful Nationaltrainer in the 103-year history of the DFB – but he has also engineered a spirit within the team that has upped morale and created a tangible sense of optimism. After the brouhaha surrounding contract extension talks prior to South Africa 2010, it would have been foolish for the DFB not to reward Jogi and his team for all their hard work.
Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04)
Tim Wiese (SV Werder Bremen)
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)
Sven Bender (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Mario Götze (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF)
Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF)
Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln)
André Schürrle (1. FSV Mainz 05)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München)
Christian Träsch (VfB Stuttgart)
Mario Gómez (FC Bayern München)
Miroslav Klose (FC Bayern München)