Three things Löw must address for Germany′s Italy challenge, and beyond | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 28.03.2016
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Three things Löw must address for Germany's Italy challenge, and beyond

After defeat to England in Berlin, questions are being asked of the German national team. There are three key issues coach Joachim Löw must deal with ahead of Tuesday's game against Italy and Euro 2016.

The fullbacks

The fullback issue reared its ugly head once again after Germany's back line crumbled against England. The inexperience of Germany's central defensive pairing meant there was an increased focus on the men on the left and right of defense and their displays gave cause for concern.

Emre Can struggled once again at right back while Jonas Hector was quiet on the opposite flank. The poor display of the former must have increased the chances of Sebastian Rudy or Matthias Ginter getting the nod at right back against Italy.

Rudy, a Löw favorite, plays holding midfield for his club Hoffenheim but he has largely been used at right back for Germany. However, given the season both Ginter and Dortmund are having, it would be harsh on the World Cup winner were he not to be given a chance to start on Tuesday. Ginter may not offer as much of an attacking threat as Can or Rudy but he has grown into the position in a way neither of the other two look capable of doing. His defensive solidity means Ginter is the current squad's best option at right back, while Hector, seems to be the only available option on the other side against Italy.

Fußball Bundesliga 4. Spieltag Hannover 96 - Borussia Dortmund Marcel Schmelzer

Will Marcel Schmelzer get another chance?

Beyond the players Löw called up for these two games is a decent list of alternatives. If Ginter's club teammate Erik Durm can stay fit, the World Cup champion looks the best right-back option for Germany this summer. Next in line might be Hertha's Mitchell Weiser, who has at least shown he has the required attacking attributes. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich has developed remarkably under Pep Guardiola in the last few months and may be a late contender for the Euros squad.

On the left hand side of the backline, many Dortmund fans are baffled as to why Marcel Schmelzer has once again been omitted. Schmelzer has 16 Germany caps, but hasn't appeared since a friendly against Chile in 2014. While not an absolutely top level left back, Schmelzer, like Ginter, has matched his club's impressive form this term and deserves a recall. In short, the players are there but Löw doesn't seem to be picking them.

The midfield balance

It's a hard reality to process for some but Bastian Schweinsteiger's days in the national team are numbered. The 31-year-old's recent ligament injury follows a similar setback at the start of the year and with Germany's pool of midfielders overflowing, it is time to accept that the captain's armband should be passed on.

Sami Khedira is the man best placed to take up the mantle. The Juventus midfielder was close to his best in Berlin against England and should be the foundation on which Germany build.

The role of Toni Kroos appears less clear. His deep-lying playmaking abilities are sometimes wasted behind Germany's front four. As an alternative, Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gündogan provides a driving surge that pass-master Kroos does not. If Kroos were to play further forward, the front four would become a little more rigid, but playing him next to Khedira doesn't make sense at the moment.

Fußball - England - Deutschland

Gomez works, but is he plan A or B for Germany?

There are more questions further up the field. If Germany play Mario Gomez they need more width, better service and to trust that their number nine can be involved in build-up play down the middle. But Germany went wide too often against England, rendering Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller largely ineffective. The front four are widely interchangeable when Özil or Mario Götze leads the attack but that isn't the case when it's Gomez, a much more traditional centre forward. Speeding up the time it takes to adjust between the two different appraoches will make Germany more effective.

The mindset

Germany stopped playing in Berlin after going 2-0 up and were deservedly punished by England in the last half hour. It was a timely reminder of the hosts' nonchalant approach to friendlies, something they need to shed. Starting that process against Italy would be perfect. In 32 meetings with the Italians, Germany have only managed seven victories, the last coming in 1995. Against a team they have never beaten in a tournament, Germany must regain the confidence they will need this summer.

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