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Posts Tagged ‘ Marcel Schmelzer ’

German Giants Go Head To Head In Battle Of Europe

ansgararticleIt is safe to say most of Europe’s and even the world’s eyes will be on a stadium in London on Saturday night. The Champions League final has nearly as big an appeal as the World Cup final. The English FA was happy when Wembley was picked as a host, it was a gesture for their anniversary. The worst case happened, however, when no team from the “Best League In The World” survived the quarter finals. On the other hand, two very different and yet similar teams from Germany made their way to the final. An all-German affair, unlikely as it seemed before this season, will decide the winner.

The favourite seems clear in Bayern München, but their trauma of two lost cup finals last season haunts them even after a truly astonishing league campaign. 92 points after 34 matchdays as well as winning the championship the earliest were just a couple of records the team of coach Jupp Heynckes broke over the course of the season. A little stumble away at BATE Borisov could not hide the fact that the team won their Champions League group comfortably. Things got tense in the 2nd round match-up against Arsenal, but from then on, they left Juventus and Barcelona no chance whatsoever, schooling the Spaniards 7-0 on aggregate to enter the final.  Continue reading

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Perspective-Superior Germans Have Problems Ireland Won’t Exploit

Will Jogi Be Jumping For Joy In Dublin?

Germany visit the Aviva Stadium to play against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers tomorrow. Given the 100% record in the EURO 2012 qualifiers plus reaching the semi finals, the Germans enter the match as clear favourites. The vast majority of the Germany squad play either for the strongest Bundesliga teams like Borussia Dortmund or Bayern München, or have established themselves in some of the biggest teams in Europe, like Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira at Real Madrid, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker at Arsenal or Miroslav Klose at Lazio.

The team continues to be one of youngest and most talented ones in the history of German football, but despite (or because of) that, things are not as rosy as they seem.

There are a couple of things that are certain with a team from Germany. Number one: We could supply several other national teams throughout Europe with goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer, Ron-Robert Zieler and Marc-André ter Stegen are the three selected, but there is another handful of keepers in the Bundesliga other countries would be proud of having on their bench, or even between the posts. René Adler, Roman Weidenfeller, Bernd Leno, Fabian Giefer,….

Number two: There will always be enough attacking midfielders around. Okay, this is a more recent development, but the point stands. Germany have the choice of fielding 3 of the following behind lone striker Miroslav Klose: Müller, Özil, Podolski, Reus, Schürrle or Götze. It is suspected that Müller, Özil and Reus will get to start, but every combination is a threat for the opponent.

But this uber-offer of creative, pacy wingers hints at one of the major problems Germany face now and even more in the future. With Gomez injured, there is only Klose up front. And not many strikers are really showing themselves in the league. As coach Löw hinted before the Euros, it is suspected that a 4-6-0 formation like Spain played last summer with Marco Reus in the “false nine” role might be the solution. However, this formation has never really been tested in a competitive match.

Speaking of problems, there is another one that exists for years and doesn’t look either like being solved in the future; the defence. Mats Hummels misses the qualifiers with a foot injury, Philipp Lahm pulled out of the games as well. This makes a centre back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Holger Badstuber quite likely. Mertesacker was benched recently while Badstuber played left-back for Bayern in their last matches. The two are not used to playing alongside each other, that might leave gaps.

Things on the fullback positions are problematic too. It says a lot about a country as big as Germany, that all hopes relied on Lahm to perform on either side. There simply isn’t a second good to great left- or right-back in Germany, let alone a replacement. Joachim Löw heavily criticized Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer before the upcoming qualifiers because of his recent performances and was complaining he didn’t have many alternatives to choose from. It’s true that Schmelzer had a bad match against Austria last month and he has been occasionally found out against tougher opposition, but there are indeed not many replacements around, sadly. Boateng on the other flank, as Lahm’s backup, is expected to do a solid job, although nothing spectacular.

Okay okay, this is whining on a very high level, compared to Ireland’s problems. But these problems are enough to make people question Löw’s work as coach. However it is not expected to see him leave any time before the World Cup. Qualifying for a major competition is a box ticked by the German public and media, even before it starts. Therefore winning the group is a must for Löw and the team. And despite the Euro 2012 hangover the squad has, a few individual moments can make a difference against a spirited team performance. The game in Vienna last month is the best example, where two good moments in the match guaranteed two goals and the team was just about able to hang on to the three points, they didn’t deserve.

Key Man: Dortmund’s Marco Reus

All in all, these players now have found their form in the Bundesliga or the respective leagues and should be motivated enough to beat Ireland and then Sweden on Tuesday, at home in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Germany will line out like this: Neuer – Boateng, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Schmelzer – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Özil, Reus – Klose.

Against a restructuring home team, those eleven (plus subs) should be well able to comfortably beat the Republic of Ireland. However, the last Germany win on Irish soil was in 1979 (3-1). Alright, only two games were played in Ireland afterwards, both ending in a draw. The most recent was a 0-0 in the Euro 2008 qualifiers; only Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger and Podolski are players who featured in that match and are back five years on.

I’ll say Germany has enough quality to beat Ireland comfortably, despite all the defensive problems I predict a 3-0 win for Germany to keep the 100% record in the qualifying group.

By Ansgar Löcke (@ansgarius_90)

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