Time for an update on the latest team news, and what – according to Kicker at least – looks like something approaching an experimental line-up by Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw. Having initially been left behind at the team hotel, Mario Gómez appears to be fit and ready to start.
In what appears to be a return to the 4-1-4-1 experiment that was tested earlier in the year, Kicker has released their customary provisional take on the lineup:
Zieler – Träsch, Hummels, Badstuber, Schmelzer – Khedira – T. Müller, M. Götze, Özil, Podolski – Gómez
So, a debut start for Ron-Robert Zieler, a rest for Per Mertesacker and Jérôme Boateng, a rare outing for Marcel Schmelzer, and yet another crack at throwing Christian Träsch into the right-back role – which was something of a disaster last time around against Poland. One can only assume that this will be Träsch’s last opportunity to prove himself as a viable alternative in this position, and as the coach sees no place for him in what his his more familiar defensive midfield role it could be a key moment in determining his place in the squad. Schmelzer also has plenty to prove, moreso given his perfomance against the Poles that could best be described as ordinary.
The 4-1-4-1 approach means no starting place for Toni Kroos – with Sami Khedira getting the nod as the sole man in front of the defence – while both Mesut Özil and Mario Götze start together for the first time in what is an exciting attacking midfield quartet. Many people have been looking forward to seeing an Özil-Götze midfield axis in action – and we are all hoping that ÖzGö will not end up like Günter Netzer and Wolfgang Overath, two great players and friends who by their own admission couldn’t play alongside each other.
Alongside Özil and Götze are the tireless Thomas Müller and the in-form Lukas Podolski, who is set to make his first start wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose.
Up front should be the in-form Gómez, who might be feeling that he is due an international hat-trick.
The Ukrainians – coached by former Soviet Union legend Oleg Blokhin – have a largely unknown lineup with only one immediately recognisable name in the shape of their skipper, Bayern München defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Indeed, of the projected starting eleven only Tymoshchuk plays outside of the Ukrainian domestic league. There’s nothing glamorous about the 2012 tournament co-hosts, but they are a solid unit that cannot be underestimated, especially at home. On the bench is legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko, who is now back in his home country with Dynamo Kyiv.
The game is not being shown in the UK, and I am not aware of any highlights package either at the moment. I will therefore be trying my best to find a decent live stream for my minute-by-minute commentary. I have no doubt mentioned it already, but this game will also see the team’s first outing in the Trikot that will be used for the Euro finals next year – let’s hope that they get off to a winning start!
Bild have just released their starting XI, which looks completely different. Tim Wiese instead of Zieler, and a 4-1-3-1-1 formation with Özil in an advanced attacking midfield role just behind Gómez. Benedikt Höwedes and Boateng instead of Träsch and Badstuber, and André Schürrle out on the right flank instead of Müller.
Wiese – Höwedes, Boateng, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira – Podolski, Götze, Schürrle – Özil, Gómez
Someone somewhere is pulling our chain… I am now expecting Jogi to name Cacau instead of Gómez up front at the last minute…