A fixture that can be called a “Klassiker” is a rare thing – outside of the major tournaments, you may be lucky to get one in a year. However as the year comes to a close the Nationalmannschaft have got two classic encounters in the space of a week, the first in Milan against Italy and the second at Wembley against England. I cannot recall a time when two friendlies against such high-profile opponents have taken place in such a short period of time, and with the World Cup approaching I am sure that everyone will be taking things a little more seriously than usual.
Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw is certainly taking things seriously in naming a full-strength squad of twenty four, and despite there being a number of key players sidelines through injury things remain strong. There’s one new name, one significant recall, and the determination to see what has been yet another successful year out with a flourish.
The new man is actually one of the “old men” on this new squad, as Borussia Dortmund’s ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller finally makes the squad. The thirty-three year old replaces Ron-Robert Zieler, though first choice Manuel Neuer will be expected to start and finish both games.
The six defenders picked for the final World Cup qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden both keep their place in the squad, but with both Italy and England likely to provide more of a test two more names are added to the list. Fit-again Marcel Schmelzer is back in the mix, with HSV skipper Heiko Westermann who makes a return to the Kader to provide additional defensive options.
Schmelzer’s return presents an interesting conundrum for the coach following the two solid performances by Marcell Jansen, and in the middle of the defence it will once again be a two from three pick out of Jérôme Boateng, Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels.
In midfield new centurion Bastian Schweinsteiger misses out through injury, but with everyone else fit – for now at least – the coach can at least pick from a more established selection. With İlkay Gündoğan still unfit the injury to Schweinsteiger leaves things a little thin in the defensive midfield as Sami Khedira will probably start alongside Toni Kroos, but even with the absence of Lukas Podolski the offensive unit remains competitive.
Last month’s hat-trick hero André Schürrle will be looking to maintain his good form, while the likes of Julian Draxler and Sidney Sam will be looking to impress the coach and go some way to booking their seats on the plane to Brazil.
Up front, Miroslav Klose returns to the fold alongside youngster Max Kruse, and once again the veteran will be looking forward to breaking Gerd Müller’s long-standing record of sixty-eight goals in the Nationaltrikot. Against such high-calibre opponents, the stage has been set.
Germany’s poor record against Italy doesn’t need to be mentioned again – that was covered well enough during the build-up to that awful Euro 2012 semi-final and in the painful postmortem afterwards. As for England, you won’t find a better statistical and historical analysis than on this site.
René Adler (Hamburger SV, 12/0)
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München, 43/0)
Roman Weidenfeller (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 0/0)
Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München, 34/0)
Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04, 16/1)
Mats Hummels (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 26/1)
Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV, 42/3)
Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München, 103/5)
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC, 94/3)
Marcel Schmelzer (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 14/0)
Heiko Westermann (Hamburger SV, 26/4)
Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 15/4)
Sven Bender (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 5/0)
Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04, 9/1)
Mario Götze (FC Bayern München, 24/6)
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF, 42/3)
Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München, 39/5)
Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München, 46/16)
Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF, 51/17)
Marco Reus (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund, 17/7)
Sidney Sam (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 4/0)
André Schürrle (Chelsea FC, 28/11)
Miroslav Klose (SS Lazio, 130/68)
Max Kruse (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 5/1)