Nils Petersen or Mario Gomez? Decision time for Germany coach Joachim Löw | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.06.2018
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Nils Petersen or Mario Gomez? Decision time for Germany coach Joachim Löw

With Manuel Neuer looking certain to be on the plane to Russia, the main choice facing Joachim Löw is whether to take Nils Petersen or Mario Gomez as back-up striker. DW's Michael Da Silva expects Gomez to get the nod.

About half of Joachim Löw's first choice players started in Austria on Saturday night, but very few of the peripheral members of the squad enhanced their chances of being on the plane to Russia.

Manuel Neuer is the only player who will have left Klagenfurt feeling like he'd improved his World Cup chances. The Bayern keeper was helpless against his two goals, with question marks over the defending of Germany's second string back line a greater concern.

Read more: Germany suffer shock defeat in Austria

Common sense would suggest Löw will drop goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and defender Jonathan Tah from the final 23, with Julian Brandt also likely to find himself receiving some bad news on Monday. Germany are already fully loaded with top quality wingers and forwards capable of playing in Brandt's position, making the Leverkusen man somewhat surplus to requirements.

But the biggest decision for Löw is that of his reserve striker. It appears to have come down to a straight choice between Freiburg's Nils Petersen, who won his first cap in the defeat by Austria, or Mario Gomez, who is coming off the back of an unspectacular season that saw him score only one league goal before the start of February, but is tried and tested in the Germany setup.

Petersen got the nod from the start in Klagenfurt, but saved one of his most ineffective performances for the moment when he really needed to pull something special out of the bag. His cause wasn't helped by a complete lack of service by the triad of players behind him: Mesut Özil, Leroy Sane and Brandt all had quiet nights. Petersen struggled to establish any kind of understanding with his teammates and cut a frustrated figure for long periods.

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland - Österreich Nils Petersen (Getty Images/AFP/J. Klamar)

Nils Petersen scored 15 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for Freiburg last season, but is in danger of missing the cut for Germany.

It's hardly fair to throw a player into a new team and new environment and expect him to fire straight away, but that's effectively what Löw was giving Petersen the chance to do. "Show me you belong at this level," were surely the kind of words the coach offered to his newest recruit in the hour and 45 minutes they were waiting for the torrential rain to ease.

But beyond a few neat touches in the first half, Petersen offered very little. Sadly for him, he may not get another opportunity at international level this side of the World Cup, or at all.

With Timo Werner looking likely to lead the line for Germany in Russia, the only player Petersen is competing with for a place on the plane is the veteran forward Mario Gomez, who replaced the Freiburg man in the 76th minute. Gomez didn't have long to help muster an equalizer, but Löw already knows exactly what he's getting with the Stuttgart striker: A physical presence, a target man, and a last roll of the dice when time is running out.

Such qualities shouldn't be overlooked by a coach who has always favored stability over risk-taking, and it's for this reason that Gomez is likely to make the cut at the expense of Petersen, whose 15 goals in 32 Bundesliga games remains a fine return at a club who struggled for much of the last campaign.

But with Germany's opening game less than two weeks away, now is not the time Löw is likely to start taking any risks.

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