UEFA Nations League 2018/19: The lineup that will get Germany back firing
Germany, like most nations after winning the World Cup, has become a shadow of their best self. The team that used to be one of the toughest to beat is now one of the easiest. You can’t fault them that much though, after losing some of their best talents and leaders in Lahm and Schweinsteiger, they were bound to suffer. But no one would have expected a team that was known for its hard work to suffer as they are now.
Ever since the German Federation appointed Joachim Lowe as their manager, they have been considered serious contenders in every major tournament they went into. In fact, they were always present in at least the last four of every major tournament.
So what really happened to this strong force in football? Surely, it is not lack of talent, because they currently have some of the best footballing talents around. So what’s the problem?
Maybe they have a lot of talent that the manager finds it difficult to settle on a certain team. Just maybe! A few years ago, you’d see Germany and you’d almost automatically know who was going to start. In defence, you had Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, the left back position has been problematic but at least you had Howedes during the 2014 World Cup.
You’d almost be sure that the midfield would have Khedira, Schweinsteiger and Kroos. Then you’d have Muller and Ozil on the wings and Gomez as the striker. Pretty easy right? If one had an injury they’d almost always have a like for like change.
Here’s how Low should line up his current crop of stars.
There’s no two ways about it, Neuer when fit should always start. If not for anything, he’s currently the only leader this team has at their disposal. When on song, he’s still one of if not the best goalkeepers around. There have been suggestions of having him dropped, but the team will go further downwards if they drop this huge personality.
Defence: Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Schmelzer
Kimmich is currently one of the top right backs in the world despite his relatively young age. Germany had Lahm patrol that area for years, but it’s time they move on from that and Kimmich is the man to take over that spot permanently. He’s tactically astute and reads the game well for such a young player and has the discipline to cover up well for his centre-backs.
Boateng and Hummels have the advantage over any other player in competition with them for the centre back positions currently. They play for the same team, have developed an understanding and most importantly they complement each other. They are both well into their prime as centre backs and they are defensive leaders in their own right.
Left back is one position that Germany has had a problem with for years now. There have been a lot of people wondering why Low has never truly trusted Schmelzer to hold the position permanently. He’s fast, covers a lot of ground and also a good leader (he’s the Borussia Dortmund skipper). It’s time Low trusted him and gave him a chance to show what he does already at club level.
Midfield: Weigl, Kroos, Muller
It was always going to be a tough task trying to replace a midfield general like Schweinsteiger. Germany currently doesn’t have the player to do what Bastian used to do for this team. If you can remember, during the 2014 World Cup, Germany lost their first match and he was hurriedly brought back from injury to play the second game.
That’s how important he was for this team. He pushed them forward, could pick a pass and ran the pitch more than anyone else. In addition, he was one hell of a leader. The mantle has now fallen to Toni Kross who’s not even up to that level. Not taking away anything from Kross, but he just doesn’t do as much as Bastian used to.
Weigl is a great up and coming talent that Low needs to blood in as soon as possible. He’s technically way ahead of the other German midfielders other than Kross and most importantly he’s a great holding player. If he starts playing now and develops an understanding with Kross they can easily boss any midfield they come across.
Muller is a must have in this team. He amplifies the German spirit of hard work and you never see him stop running while in a game. Low needs him to step up and be the shining light in this team as he’s done time without number. Playing in the most advanced position in that midfield he can keep opposing midfielders from doing much damage to his side. He will also chip in with the goals.
Forwards: Draxler, Werner, Sane
It is such a shame that you can’t have Reus here because of his injury record, but Low needs to work with those he can count on. Leroy Sane is a gem no matter what you think. His positional play is up there with the very best and he can easily manoeuvre around even the tightest of defences.
He can also score goals from anywhere and pull opposition defences around, allowing the striker to do damage. It was a huge shame Low dropped him from this year’s World Cup.
Currently, the only option that Germany has in the striking department is Werner. He’s a good striker though, but they need options in that position. Werner has the speed and the physique to frighten any defence in the world and can also score.
He’s shown it time and again that he is ready but Low keeps pulling him around between striker and winger. Low should settle with him as his main striker so as to help the team know how to play to his strengths.
The final piece of this team is Draxler, another promising German talent. The problem is, he’s currently at a superstar team and he can’t get a look in. He should move and get some game time so as to get back to the form that made him one of the most sort-after talents in world football some years back.
With this team here and a little tweaking here and there, Germany has the potential to go back to being the superpower they once were in world football. They certainly have the talent; it’s a matter of using them to their advantage.Published 15 Oct 2018, 20:18 IST