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Who could solve Germany's striker problem?

March 21, 2019

Timo Werner is well established as Germany's first choice striker but has struggled to score lately. A country once blessed with goalscoring greats now looks short of alternatives. But is Joachim Löw missing a trick?

Timo Werner
Image: Imago/B. König

The best goalscorers often rely on the instinct to find space in the areas of the pitch where it's most closely guarded and the ability to keep their composure when the opportunity arrives. In Germany's 1-1 draw with Serbia on Wednesday night, Luka Jovic and Timo Werner provided examples of poachers at opposite ends of the form and confidence scales.

After a corner was flicked on, Jovic found himself all alone in the six yard box and craned his neck to head Serbia in to an early lead. It wasn't the trickiest of finishes but Jovic, who has 22 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt this term, was emphatic and decisive in putting it away. Shortly after, a ball fell just as kindly for Werner in a similar amount of space. The RB Leipzig striker snatched at the chance and hit the legs of the Serbian keeper.

It was the finish of a man without confidence and one who may benefit from competition for his spot as Germany's spearhead. Werner went goalless at the World Cup, has scored just once in his last ten international games and has just one club goal in 2019. The RB Leipzig man is the only genuine striker in Joachim Löw's current squad but which players may be capable of providing competition, or at least another option, in future?

Kevin Volland

Kevin Volland is the third most prolific German in the Bundesliga this season
Kevin Volland is the third most prolific German in the Bundesliga this seasonImage: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Gambarini

Marco Reus (15) and Werner (12) are the top two German scorers in the Bundesliga with Volland (11) next on the list. The Bayer Leverkusen man has developed in to a reliable finisher and his intelligent passing and hold up play allow him to be the pivot around which Leverkusen's collection of skilful and direct attacking midfielders can play. His clubmates Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz are among a similar collection of sparky attacking talent for Die Mannschaft, which should make transition easier for Volland and those around him.

The 26-year-old made his debut under Löw in 2014 and was one of those cut from the final squad that went on to win the World Cup. He may get a chance to add to his 10 caps before too long.

Davie Selke

Davie Selke played upfront when Germany won Olympic silver in 2016
Davie Selke played upfront when Germany won Olympic silver in 2016Image: Getty Images/B. Zanardo

The Hertha Berlin man, like Volland, has an excellent record for Germany's age group teams and also led the line as Germany won silver at the 2016 Olympics. The 24-year-old was considered one of Germany's best prospects when he broke through at Werder Bremen but his progress stalled at RB Leipzig with a string of injuries diminishing a player whose physicality is one of his greatest assets.

Though he's not been prolific for Hertha this term, Selke has shown glimpses of the player many thought he'd become. Perhaps his greatest asset for Löw would be his ability to play with his back to goal, a skill Werner lacks, and his aerial strength would provide the national side with a different threat.

Mario Götze

UEFA EURO 2016 - Halbfinale | Frankreich vs. Deutschland
Joachim Löw used Mario Götze upfront in Euro 2016Image: Reuters/D. Staples

Like his Dortmund teammate Reus, Götze is far from a natural striker but the 26-year-old has played up front for BVB fairly successfully this term and has been used there by Löw before, notably at Euro 2016. Results have been mixed, with Götze's natural tendency to drop deep often congesting play and making it difficult for Germany to stretch defenses. But the pace of Brandt, Sane and Serge Gnabry may make that less of an issue than it was when Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Julian Draxler were the supporting cast.

A rib injury is currently keeping Götze out of action but an emotional return to the Germany squad doesn't seem too far away.

Max Kruse

Max Kruse has been in top form for Bremen of late
Max Kruse has been in top form for Bremen of lateImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Meissner

Werder Bremen's talisman seems unlikely to add to his 14 caps any time soon. At 31, and with past disciplinary issues, Kruse doesn't seem to fit with Löw's idea of a 'new Germany'.

But four goals and two assists in his last two games are a reminder of his undoubted talent and Kruse has shown a newfound maturity in leading a Bremen team developing under young boss Florian Kohfeldt. His touch, awareness and eye for goal suggest Kruse could be an option but will Löw be prepared to look backwards?

Nils Petersen

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland - Österreich Nils Petersen
Nils Petersen just missed out on World Cup selectionImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Klamar

Another player whose age may count against him. Petersen was named in Germany's provisional World Cup squad but left out of the final 23. His initial inclusion seemed to suggest that Löw wanted to continue to have the option of a target man, a role filled by Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose in the past.

Petersen has scored five in his last six for a Freiburg side defying expectations once again. He also has a spectacular record from the bench, which may well appeal to Löw.