It’s that time again, and the upcoming double-header – and what should hopefully be the full complement of six points – against Kazakhstan in Astana and then four days later in Nürnberg.
Injuries are once again the biggest issue for Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw: prior to the initial squad being named striker Miroslav Klose would already be out of commission along with BVB’s defensive stalwart Mats Hummels – out for four weeks having sustained ankle ligament damage in the Revierderby against Schalke 04 – but in the days leading up to Friday’s encounter in Astana more names would be added to the list.
First, FC Bayern München midfielder Toni Kroos would be ruled out following his club’s meeting with Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Sunday, and BVB’s defensive midfielder Sven Bender would join his brother Lars on the non-starter list. At this point the coach has not brought in any replacements, and looks to be sticking with what is now a reduced squad of twenty.
Manuel Neuer (Bayern München, 36 Apps/0 Goals)
René Adler (Hamburger SV, 11/0)
Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96, 2/0)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 28/0)
Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04, 11/1)
Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München, 96/5)
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC, 86/2)
Marcel Schmelzer (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 9/0)
Heiko Westermann (Hamburger SV, 24/3)
Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04, 3/0)
Mario Götze (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 20/3)
İlkay Gündoğan (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 5/0)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF, 37/3)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 39/11)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF, 44/14)
Lukas Podolski (Arsenal FC, 107/44)
Marco Reus (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 14/5)
André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 21/7)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München, 97/23)
Mario Gómez (FC Bayern München, 58/25)
Having been rested for last month’s match in Paris against France, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer should make the starting eleven, along with the returning Bastian Schweinsteiger who looks set to resume his defensive midfield partnership with Sami Khedira. This is perhaps a little harsh on the unlucky İlkay Gündoğan, who delivered one of the performances of the evening against Les Bleus.
Thankfully those who have had to drop out of the squad would have been on the bench, which means that Löw should have a first-choice starting eleven on Friday – barring any further withdrawals.
The Nationalmannschaft have made a good start to 2013, winning their first match of a new year since a 3-0 victory over Austria in February 2008. Kazakhstan meanwhile have only managed a return of a single point from their opening four qualifiers with a goalless draw at home against Austria.
The Kazakhs are now fairly familiar opposition for the Mannschaft, with both sides having been drawn together for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Germany would win both games fairly easily, 4-0 in Kaiserslautern and 3-0 in Astana.
As usual, there will be more updates closer to kick-off – no news yet about live coverage here in the UK, so it looks as though I will be on a scratchy stream again…