Who will benefit from Germany′s axing of Müller, Hummels and Boateng? | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 08.03.2019
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Who will benefit from Germany's axing of Müller, Hummels and Boateng?

The decision to cull three senior players from the German national team has had serious repercussions. But it also presents opportunities for players previously on the fringes. DW takes a look at who could step up.

Mario Götze

Once the apple of Joachim Löw's eye, the one-time prodigy has fallen from grace in recent years through a mixture of injury, illness and loss of form. But a return to Borussia Dortmund and to fitness has seen Götze (pictured, top) start to recover some of the deftness of touch, vision and decisiveness so evident in World Cup 2014, when he scored the winning goal.

Generally considered a natural attacking midfielder, Götze has spent much of this season playing up front for Dortmund, a role he's also performed for Germany in the past. It was also where Müller would sometimes perform for Die Mannschaft, leaving a spot open for a return for Götze, who hasn't pulled on a Germany shirt since 2017. 

Löw has admitted he made mistakes with the 26-year-old, burdening him with a public comparison to Lionel Messi, but the time may be right to bring the prodigal son back in to the fold for the upcoming fixtures against Serbia (friendly, March 20) and the Netherlands (Euro 2020 qualifying, March 24).

Thilo Kehrer

Thilo Kehrer (Imago/DeFodi/H. Langer)

Thilo Kehrer has nailed down a starting spot at Paris Sain-Germain

The Germany coach's decision to axe Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, his preferred center back pairing for many years, and his recent conversion to the benefits of three at the back leaves Niklas Süle, Antonio Rüdiger and Löw favorite Matthias Ginter as the only established internationals competing for the spots. 

This is likely to provide further opportunities for Kehrer. The 22-year-old has won four caps since making his debut last year and is comfortable on the right of a back three and as a right back, a move which would allow Joshua Kimmich to play in to central midfield. The former Schalke man has largely impressed since nailing down a spot in Thomas Tuchel's Paris Saint-Germain side but was exposed badly in PSG's collapse against Manchester United on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Kehrer's speed, tackling and ability to drive forward with the ball are all assets in the type of football Löw now seems to want to play. He has work to do, particularly on his concentration and perhaps on his physical strength. But expect to see plenty of Kehrer in Germany's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.  

Serge Gnabry

Serge Gnabry has been in good form for Bayern Munich (Reuters/T. Schmuelgen)

Serge Gnabry has been in good form for Bayern Munich

Though he made his club debut seven years ago, Gnabry is still very much emerging as a key figure in Löw's 'new Germany'. The Bayern Munich winger, 23, missed out on the World Cup after a late season injury curtailed an impressive loan at Hoffenheim. Despite a hat-trick on debut in 2016, Gnabry has made just five Germany appearances over two and a half years. With Müller out of the picture, the man who has largely displaced him at club level is likely to do the same on the international stage.

Gnabry's direct running, eye for goal and comfort in possession have recently earned him a new deal at Bayern and will likely see him form a pacy new German front three with Timo Werner and Leroy Sane. It's one that Löw believes can consign the slow, plodding football of Russia 2018 to the past. 

Antonio Rüdiger

Antonio Rüdiger (right) has started Germany's last two games (picture-alliance/dpa/Tass/S. Bobylev)

Antonio Rüdiger (right) has started Germany's last two games

The Chelsea defender made his debut before Germany were world champions and is only four years younger than Hummels and Boateng, who are both 30. But he's never quite nailed down a starting berth in the Germany side and missed Euro 2016 with a cruciate ligament injury before replacing the suspended Boateng for the second group game in Russia.

Having started Germany's previous two games, the Berlin-born defender is in the box seat. But with his club side inconsistent in the Premier League and doubts remaining about his positioning and strength in the tackle, has Rüdiger done enough to finally make a real mark with the national team?

Jonathan Tah

Jonathan Tah (picture-alliance/Revierfoto)

Jonathan Tah hasn't won a Germany cap since 2016

One of the men who could yet usurp Rüdiger, Tah has hit form at the right time to capitalize on the decision to go on without Hummels and Boateng. The Bayer Leverkusen center back has excelled under Peter Bosz of late, with his ability to start attacks by striding out of defense particularly noteworthy and useful in a three man defense.

Tah won all of his four caps in 2016 and didn't make the final cut for Russia. But at 23, he looks to have much more room to improve than Rüdiger or Ginter and could form the sort of partnership with Süle that Hummels had with Boateng. Tah was in Löw's last squad and is a fair bet to be in his next one.  

Watch video 01:21

Löw drops three World Cup winners from Germany squad

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