The Confederations Cup is less than a fortnight away, and the new-look squad has its first outing against Denmark in Brøndby. In what might otherwise have been a strange situation, the inexperienced Mannschaft then play their final World Cup qualifier of the season against San Marino just four days later. Had the opposition been tougher, coach Joachim Löw would have been taking a massive risk with his young squad, but there should more than enough firepower in this young squad to see off the San Marinese.
FIFA fixture foul-up?
The idea of treating a competitive World Cup qualifier as a tournament warm-up is more than a little bizarre, and FIFA’s fixture management clearly leaves something to be desired. While Germany are somewhat lucky to be up against the weakest opponent in their qualifying group – no disrespect to San Marino intended – their first Confed Cup opponents Australia have a considerably tougher task.
Just eleven days before their meeting in Sochi, the Socceroos have a tough tie at home to Saudi Arabia in the Asian qualifiers, with their group very much in the balance. Both the Saudis and Japan are three points ahead of the Socceroos with three matches to play, and defeat for the Aussies could put their place in next year’s big tournament in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, the Mannschaft’s other two opponents, Chile and Cameroon, have no important fixtures before the fortnight-long summer tournament in Russia kicks off.
A Danish Celebration
So, back to today’s fixture in Brøndby, a match arranged to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Danes’ victory over Germany in Göteborg on 5th June 1992. Pride in the occasion will mean that Åge Hareide’s men will be looking to please the home crowd, up against a Germany team where Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw will be looking to blood his collection of uncapped players.
As part of the celebrations, some old faces from the 1992 Mannschaft will be joining members of the victorious Denmark team from 1992, including former coach Berti Vogts and defensive stalwarts Thomas Helmer and Guido Buchwald.
With little preparation time, Löw has described it is a “cold start”. Sat alongside defender Shkodran Mustafi in his latest press conference, the Nationaltrainer appeared to suggest that his starting lineup in Brøndby will consist of a small experienced core and some “surprises”. Alongside Arsenal centre-back Mustafi, Julian Draxler, Emre Can and Marc-André ter Stegen have been earmarked as the squad’s leaders as the coach looks to get the right starting lineup.
There are seven uncapped players, all of whom will be looking at getting off the mark: Kevin Trapp, Marvin Plattenhardt, Diego Demme, Kerem Demirbay, Lars Stindl, Amin Younes and Sandro Wagner.
A look back
Interestingly, the coach looked back at the 2005 edition of the Confed Cup, where players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm all made their presence felt – effectively cementing their place in the squad for the World Cup the following year. Given the depth of talent in German football right now – as opposed to 2005 – two or three similar successes in this young squad will give the coach more than enough resources as he looks to fine-tune things ahead of the return to Russia in 2018.
For those looking to establish themselves, it is a time to shine.
There are no obvious injury concerns at the moment, but Timo Werner is out with a stomach bug. Still unfilled is the slot in the twenty-three man squad vacated by Leroy Sané, who pulled out last month due to an impending nose operation.