Kicker's Ratings and Latest News

Kicker Online’s ratings for the game against the Ukraine were published today, and make for some interesting comparisons to those posted by myself and Bild. While Bild and I disagreed on most things but selected the same Man of the Match in Toni Kroos, Kicker have been a little bolder in giving debutant ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler their best score.

I am actually pleased to see this, especially as I made a point of highlighting Zieler as one of the few positives in what was a very frustrating match. Here are the ratings:

Zieler (2.5), Boateng (4.5), Badstuber (4), Hummels (4), Träsch (5), Aogo (5), Khedira (3.5), Kroos (3), Götze (5), Özil (5), Gómez (4). Subs: Schürrle (3.5), Rolfes (3)

OK, now to tonights game against The Netherlands at Hamburg’s Imtech-Arena – which according to most reports is to see Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw go with a 4-4-2 formation with both Miroslav Klose and Mario Gómez leading the line.

The make-up of the starting eleven is as usual creating interesting debate; while there’s one corner that is saying “it’s the Dutch, so we need to field our best team”,others are throwing out the line “it’s a just a friendly”. The reality is that it’s somewhere between the two: the game is a friendly and there is no silverware at stake, but although things are a far cry from the 1970s and even the late 1980s that provided more than a little needle between the two sides it is still Die Nationalmannschaft v De Oranje – and neither team will be wanting to lose.

Kicker has projected the following starting XI:

Neuer – Höwedes, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Aogo – Khedira, Özil – Müller, Podolski – Gómez, Klose

The defensive four here sees wholesale change on the right, with Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels giving way to Benedikt Höwedes and Per Mertesacker. Holger Badstuber – who had a decent game against the Ukraine – keeps his place, while at left-back the withdrawal of Marcel Schmelzer through injury means that Dennis Aogo will have a good chance to prove his value to the squad in a more orthodox formation after what was a bit of a horror show in Kyiv. In goal, mainstay Manuel Neuer returns in place of Ron-Robert Zieler.

The addition of the extra striker means that the midfield has to drop one man – and from this line-up it is Toni Kroos, the one outfield player who impressed last week. Kicker’s organisation of the midfield is slightly bizarre in that it looks like a 4-2-2-2, with the unlikely pairing of Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil sitting behind Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski; if it is this eleven that do start, I would fancy Khedira to sit slightly behind Özil, who would be the supplier in midfield to Müller and Podolski on the flanks. As for the two men up front, I can see Miroslav Klose playing the role just in front of the midfield – with Mario Gómez as the out and out striker.

In fact, rather that a 4-4-2 this eleven would probably best function as a 4-5-1, or to be more precise a 4-1-1-2-1-1 – with there being a diamond formation in front of Khedira and behind Gómez (clockwise from 12 o’clock: Klose, Müller, Özil, Podolski). On paper this sounds like a worthwhile experiment – as opposed to a tired old 4-4-2 – but I’d much rather see the tried and tested 4-3-2-1 against the Dutch with Kroos in front of Khedira and one of the strikers on the bench.

Then again I think I might just wait until kick-off – where Jogi may surprise us again with another 3-6-1 with Cacau leading the line. Or something.

While Germany are without old heads Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, they still have plenty of fit and available players to choose from; this is not the case for the Dutch, who are starting to look a little depleted. Many of the big names were always not going to be there – Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Ibrahim Afellay, Eljero Elia – but Rafael van der Vaart took a knock in Friday’s goalless draw against Switzerland in Amsterdam, and reports were not too good about Wesley Sneijder who went down with something – probably a dose of the van Bommels – in training.

The match is being shown on ESPN here in the UK – though “delayed live” rather than “live live”. Not to worry though – I will still be sourcing a stream to get my minute-by-minute report out as early as possible, as well as my Twitter feed @fussballchef.

Bis gleich!

Kicker’s Ratings and Latest News
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