Germany coach Joachim Low mulling generation shift in goalkeepers

Joachim Low thinking about promoting younger goalkeepers to challenge Manuel Neuer

Berlin, June 14 (IANS) After the summer break, Manuel Neuer will be well advised to avoid making any mistakes. Things would change when the 29-year-old goalkeeper returns to the German national team from his end-of-season vacation.

Germany head coach Joachim Low left no doubt there would soon be a change of generations as far as goalies in the German national team are concerned, reports Xinhua.

Neuer will not lose his number one status but his "new" rivals have a few things in common: They are young, top-class and, despite their young age, experienced. Meaning: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (23), Kevin Trapp (24), Bernd Leno (23), Timo Horn (22) and Ron-Robert Zieler (26) would be breathing down his neck.

But before the youngsters crash the party it was time to say good-bye to an "old" fellow. When Roman Weidenfeller on Saturday went on the pitch in Faro, Portugal, to win his fifth international cap for the German national team, the 34-year-old goalkeeper was aware that the Euro qualifier win against Gibraltar (7-0) would most likely be his last match for his country.

German coach Joachim Low made it clear, "The future belongs to the young keepers. No doubt there will be changes between the posts."

After all, Weidenfeller was a part of the 2014 World Cup squad, made 345 league appearances and played in the 2013 Champions League final. A class act as a goalkeeper, his time in the national colours seems to be up.

Weidenfeller might have an advantage as regards his experience but he has been overtaken by youngsters like Ter Stegen (the youngest German keeper to win the Champions League, in 2015 with FC Barcelona), Trapp, Leno (32 Champions League games), Zieler and Horn.

The German youngsters stand for a new type of goalkeeping game, following their "idol" Manuel Neuer. Neuer, who was named 2014 World Goalkeeper of the Year, is said to have revolutionised the modern game as he is often more like an eleventh field player, often playing far up in the field to support his defence.

Loew is considering carrying out tactical changes for his team. He wants to play with a three-man defence, which requires a more risky (and modern) game style for goalkeepers.

For years now goalkeepers have seemed to be like good wine: The older the better. But now it is: The younger the better. The job profile for German keepers changed from the 2006 World Cup when Oliver Kahn was replaced by Jens Lehmann. Because the latter's game was regarded by then German coach Juergen Klinsmann and his assistant Loew to be more modern.

Lehmann was regarded as a "playing" goalie who can be not only last man standing but an additional defender if needed.

In Germany goes, it is not enough anymore for goalies to be like a wall on the line. In modern football, statistics are not only fed with passes and assists but with heat maps of goalkeepers showing the ball contacts far off the goal line.

Today goalkeepers like Neuer, Ter Stegen, Leno, Trapp, Zieler and Horn are "playmakers" too, running many kilometres in a game.

At the 2014 World Cup the best goalies ran between five and seven kilometres. In Germany's 2-1 win against Algeria in a World Cup game, Neuer played 42 passes, and most reached the intended target.

Against Gibraltar in a Euro qualifier game on Saturday, Loew gave Neuer a break but still played with a three-man back line and an "old" keeper (Weidenfeller). Both defenders, Sebastian Rudy and Jonas Hector were supposed to support the team's forays in the opponents half.

Bastian Schweinsteiger played behind a midfield row of four of Karim Bellarabi, Ilkay Guendogan, Mesut Oezil and Patrick Herrmann. German strikers were Mario Goetze and Andre Schurrle.

Loew's intention was to score as many goals as possible in addition to three points on the road to the Euro 2016 competition. His plan worked well in Faro against Gibraltar, but only in the second half after weak first 45 minutes.

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Edited by Staff Editor


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