World Cup opponent watch: Germany look at rising stars for Chile friendly
Germany head coach Joachim Loew will be assessing his options ahead of June’s World Cup with four uncapped players in the squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Chile.
The Stuttgart friendly is Loew’s last chance to test new combinations before naming his squad for Brazil 2014 on May 8, with Germany set to kick-off their World Cup campaign against Portugal in Salvador on June 16.
With 100 days to go before the World Cup, Loew has voiced concerns with several first-choice players returning from injury and he said his final squad will be based solely on current form.
“On paper, we have a top team, but the reality is a bit different at the moment,” said Loew, whose side won nine and drew one of their 10 qualifiers.
“Several players have been injured for months, while others have struggled with a lack of rhythm or form.
“With a view to the World Cup, we won’t make any compromises. We have to get everything in line to be successful.
“We have the chance to work on solutions and alternatives to various problems.
“So we have decided to look at a few new faces who have been consistently good for their clubs.”
Loew has called up the uncapped quartet of Sampdoria centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, Augsburg midfielder Andre Hahn, Freiburg centre-back Matthias Ginter and Hamburg striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
Centre-back is the key position where Loew needs depth with first-choice Mats Hummels only just returning from injury and set to partner Bayern’s Jerome Boateng.
Likewise, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has only just returned after ankle surgery, then a knee injury.
With Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira facing a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after a knee injury, Loew will switch captain Philipp Lahm to partner Schweinsteiger in the defensive midfield against Chile.
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender has dropped out with a dead leg and Loew hopes veteran striker Miroslav Klose will start.
The 35-year-old is set to become Germany’s all-time top-scorer having equalled Gerd Mueller’s record of 68 goals in the white shirt, but he sat out Lazio’s 1-0 Serie A win against Fiorentina on Sunday with a strained abdominal muscle.
Chile will certainly have taken heart from Paraguay’s 3-3 draw with Germany last August when the south Americans took an early 2-0 lead after hitting the hosts on the counter-attack before the Germans fought back.
Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile has been drawn in Group B along with Australia, Spain and the Netherlands at the World Cup.
Midfielder Arturo Vidal, who used to play in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen, has said the south Americans are coming to Stuttgart to shock the hosts.
Having qualified third in the South American qualifying group behind Argentina and Colombia, Chile demand respect.
“This is our last test match before the World Cup and we are coming to win it,” the 26-year-old Juventus midfielder told Sport Bild.
“We attack early, we like to play and we run a lot.
“We play a bit like Borussia Dortmund did last season in the Champions League.
“We have a tough group at the World Cup, but we can be a big surprise and we have never had a bigger chance.”