Loew′s attacking youngsters may alter Germany′s workmanlike image | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.06.2010
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Loew's attacking youngsters may alter Germany's workmanlike image

Far from being a cobbled-together list of the only players still fit, the Germany team set to take on Bosnia on Thursday - and the world in South Africa - suggests coach Jogi Loew wants to attack, attack, attack.

Germany's Jerome Boateng, Marko Marin and Mesut Oezil

Boateng, Marin and Oezil are young and hungry

Much has been said about Joachim Loew's hand being forced by injuries when it came to naming his 23-man Germany squad for this summer's World Cup. Losing the likes of Michael Ballack, Rene Adler, Simon Rolfes, Christian Traesch and Heiko Westermann even before a ball was kicked in anger meant that Loew only had one player to cut before boarding the plane to South Africa. Some pundits have already referred to the squad as being one picked by default.

It goes without saying that Loew would much rather have had a fully-fit complement of players to choose from - plus his captain and other first choice stars ready for action - but a closer look at the final squad sheet for South Africa reveals not only a list of players with Loew's seal of approval stamped all over it but a selection of stars which has been specifically chosen with surprise and excitement in mind.

Few World Cup nations choose six strikers in their squad but Loew has named Cacau, Mario Gomez, Stefan Kiessling, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski. With Germany expected play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it is likely that this highly offensive team plan will include Podolski and attacking midfielder Mesut Oezil, along with either Mueller or Toni Kroos playing behind a lone striker, either Klose or Cacau.

Attacking focus set to surprise and excite

The decision to take six strikers to the World Cup and play in a formation that requires four attacking players is particularly surprising given Germany's reputation for discipline and efficiency over care-free, creative abandon.

Philipp Lahm

New Germany captain Lahm will command the defense

The solidity expected of Germany will remain with Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Arne Friedrich and Jerome Boateng making up the back four with the protective midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger ahead of them. But the inclusion of so many attacking options suggests Loew will be sending out a team to take the game by the scruff of the neck, not slowly throttle the life out of it.

Few Germany squads in recent memory have entered a tournament with such an emphasis on attack. Australia Ghana and Serbia may have to rethink their approach to their Group D clashes with the Germans with Die Mannschaft set up to stretch, probe and punch their way into the game from the front, rather than to patiently pass their way into scoring positions from deep.

Loew makes good on promise of youth

The other surprising factor is the age of those charged with the attacking duties. In fact, Germany is probably unique at this World Cup for including so many young players with negligible international experience in all areas of the squad.

Munich's Thomas Mueller

Mueller's first pro season ends with the World Cup

Mesut Oezil, 21, and Thomas Mueller, 20, have only ten full Germany caps between them - Oezil with nine and Mueller with a solitary start. The Bayern Munich starlet has also only just competed his first full Bundesliga season as a professional. Yet both Oezil and Mueller have shown with their clubs that they can unlock defenses with vision and accuracy at the highest level and, should they make the first team, will be there on merit.

Presuming that the two youngsters start, with 23-year old Sami Khedira stepping into Michael Ballack's shoes in midfield and the 23-year old Aogo or the 24-year old Jansen lining up in defense, Joachim Loew is certainly making good on his promise to invest in youth at this tournament. It is also easy to forget due to their experience that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski are each just 25.

Loew's cup runneth over

Outside of the probable starting eleven, Loew has fledglings like Kroos, Holger Badstuber and Marko Marin waiting in the wings.

Leverkusen's Toni Kroos

Kroos was a force for Leverkusen this season

The energetic and highly skilled Marin is likely to be one of the first pulled off the bench if Germany needs a shot in the arm. Kroos is also an exciting talent - one who notched nine goals and 10 assists for Leverkusen this past season, and is also able to drop deep to support and cover. Badstuber, a baby-faced defender who looks as though he should be tucked in bed before nine, has just spent a season shutting down some of the best teams in Europe. All can be trusted to come in and do a job in the first team.

Rather than taking all he could get and naming the only players still able to walk onto the plane, Joachim Loew's Germany looks to have been assembled to a specific blueprint: one which could reverse the prejudices attached to German soccer and actually entertain and thrill at the 2010 World Cup.

Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann

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