Two days ahead of the friendly against Cameroon in Mönchengladbach, it’s time for another training group report – and finally some positive news as Joachim Löw’s squad of twenty-six go are put through their paces looking to make the final cut and that precious seat on the plane to Brazil.
On Thursday 29th May the entire squad would finally get together for their first group training session, with Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer joining the fold. After the drama of the previous day it would be a case of back to business, with the events culminating in a second warmup match against the Under-20 side.
On the 25th the team would record a 7-1 win over the juniors, and the second game would see a far more polished performance with a comprehensive 8-0 win. Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose would get things under way with goals in the first half, but as the youngsters started to tire the goals would start to flow in the second period. Thomas Müller would bring his shooting boots to this gentle warm-up party as he found the back of the net five times in less than half an hour, with striker Kevin Volland rounding things off at the end.
With the coach looking to fine-tune the squad against the “Indomitable Lions”, there will almost certainly be a different look to the team that will walk out onto the field on Sunday. What is certain is that Neuer and Lahm will be rested, giving Roman Weidenfeller his second cap. With Lahm out of the side and Marcel Schmelzer not quite at full match fitness, the defence will be keenly observed, with Schmelzer’s Borussia Dortmund team mate Erik Durm looking set to make his international debut.
Both SC Frieburg’s Matthias Ginter and Mönchengladbach’s in-form Christoph Kramer are also expected to start against the side coached by former Freiburg legend Volker Finke, and it remains to be seen if one of both of Schweinsteiger or Khedira will start, though both are expected to feature at some stage given their long absence from the side. There are no obvious fitness issues with the offensive midfield, where we could also see a few tactical experiments from Nationaltrainer Löw.
Striker Klose is also likely to get another opportunity to surpass Gerd Müller’s record tally of sixty-eight international goals, and at the opposite end of the international career scale his young deputy Volland will look to get a chance to open his international account.
Cameroon, drawn in Group A in Brazil alongside Croatia, Mexico and the hosts, come into Sunday’s meeting on the back of a 2-1 defeat against tournament absentees Paraguay at the Kufstein-Arena in Austria, and will be looking to score their first goal in what will be their third full international against the Nationalelf.
The first of the previous two meetings between the two countries would take place in the group stage of the World Cup finals in Japan in 2002, and a hotly-contested encounter would see both sides reduced to ten men as Rudi Völler’s side worked their way to a 2-0 win in Shizuoka with Klose and Marco Bode finding the back of the net.
A friendly in Leipzig two years later would see Germany record a seemingly comfortable 3-0 win, but again they would have to wait until late on in the second half before breaking the deadlock. The irrepressible Klose would return to haunt the Africans with two goals, sandwiching one from Kevin Kurányi. As in Japan, the Africans would finish one man short.
For all those who take such statistical trends seriously, a bet on Klose finally breaking Müller’s record and Cameroon finishing with ten men might be worth a punt.
The game will be aired on ARD in Germany, and on BT Sport 2 in the United Kingdom.