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Two Bastian Schweinsteiger penalties in the space of five second half minutes afforded Jogi Löw's German national team the opportunity to sign off their World Cup warm-ups with a win over Bosnia.
Edin Dzeko, rumoured to be the subject of a megabucks bid of anywhere between £30-40million – depending on which newspaper you read – from cash-rich Manchester City, punished some slack Philip Lahm defending to score a truly world class finish (Alright, the German captain kicked it against him and it deflected over a stranded Manuel Neuer in goal).
The Bosnian hit man, who has scored at Eintracht Frankfurt's Kommerzbank Stadion in each of VfL Wolfsburg's last two league fixtures there, made no mistake in front of goal yet again last night to find the back of the net, albeit in fortuitous fashion.
Yet Lahm made up for his poor defending – or maybe unlucky defending? - with a fantastic goal of his own. The truly two-footed full back weaved between a couple of Bosnia players to lash a 20-yard effort into the top corner and level proceedings in Germany's final pre-World Cup friendly. A lovely goal, really beautiful. He scored a screamer to become the first player to score at Euro 2008, and more of this sort of stuff will be very welcome when the World Cup kicks off next week.
The two penalties from Schweinsteiger earned his side the win - although the second one was perhaps a bit harsh on Bosnia – yet fans of the national team might be ever-so-slightly concerned about the team Löw deemed his starting eleven for Germany's first group game against Australia.
And that starting XI you ask? Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer. Defenders: Philip Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Holger Badstuber. Midfielders: Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Piotr Trochowski, Mesut Özil. Strikers: Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.
They'll definitely miss the influence of Michael Ballack in the heart of the midfield, but the gaffer Jogi Löw was purring over the performance of replacement Khedira in Germany's 3-0 win over Hungary last week. He likes him, apparently. Löw told reporters: "I liked him. He was also very good in organising the game [against Hungary]. He played very well in the first-half”.
For me, though, the real concern lies in the defence. Ahead of a solid keeper in Neuer, Werder Bremen's Per Mertesacker and Bayern München's Philip Lahm are solid, but his Bayern teammate Holger Badstuber can be erratic at best, and relegated Hertha Berlin's Arne Friedrich can occasionally fail to live up to his central defensive partner's high standards.
The Golden Boot winner with five goals from the last World Cup in his native Germany, (well, he was actually born in Poland), and runner up to the real Ronaldo in the 2002 World Cup with five goals, Miroslav Klose, isn't guaranteed his spot up front, however. Can a forward with such an impressive goalscoring record at the highest level be ditched, though? His Bayern München teammate Mario Gomez waits in the wings. FC Köln's goal-shy striker Lukas Podolski was selected tonight - and will be starting versus Australia - but a boot up the backside might be necessary to get him back to his goalscoring best.
But wait! Can the top German striker of the past season be overlooked in the starting eleven? That seems incredibly harsh on Bayer Leverkusen's superb Stefan Kießling, who bagged 21 Bundesliga goals in the past season, just one behind Dzeko in the scoring charts. Oh, and what about Stuttgart's Brazilian-born Cacau, also in the squad, who also scored more goals than Klose, Podolski and Gomez? One can't help but feel that Herr Löw is, a la Fabio Capello, picking players on reputation rather than performance. Controversial no?
Meanwhile this week several of the German superstars have revealed their pre-game rituals in an interview with FIFA. Manuel Neuer likes to touch the posts and crossbar, Per Mertesacker likes to forego his razor for a few days, while Bastian Schweinsteiger – who the Fundesliga feels has flattered to deceive domestically this season – like the be last off the team bus. Fascinating, I'm sure you'll agree!
So the Fundesliga's prediction for Germany at this year's World Cup? Quarter finals. A potential tie against the Argies in the quarter finals might be a step too far for the Germans this time, unfortunately. What do you think? Let us know below!
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was it really that weak? i don't think so. what i like about our 2010 squad: the boys have that certain sort of spirit. they won't defeat any other side with five goals - but it will be very hard to beat them. even for argentina, if they should be germany's opponent in the quarters...
Definitely agree about the spirit of the squad. There are no superstars there (You could argue Schweini and Poldi used to be, but not any more I'd argue) and Löw has got them working hard.
I think the Germany games will be tight, but I think they won't hit the previous highs of Euro 2008 when they pushed Spain all the way... Fingers crossed, though!
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