Germany: World Cup hangover or new standard?

Injuries have limited the availability of plyers like Bayern's Bastian SchweinsteigerBundesliga / Imago

Injuries have limited the availability of plyers like Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bundesliga / Imago

DFB Elf: World Cup hangover or new standard?

by Christian Grieb 

Euro 2016 qualifying for Germany has been anything but steady in 2014. If one were to look at the table of Group D, some eye rubbing would be needed to make sure it looks correct. Germany are sitting in third place, behind Poland and the Republic of Ireland respectively. The Germans have looked anything but convincing in a few of their matches, but have also not necessarily had all of their performers available in every qualifying game.

Many are beginning to ask if there is a chink in the armor of the German side that won top honors this summer in Brazil. If anything, before the panic button is pressed, there are some important things to look at.

Germany are losing the services of Captain Philipp Lahm to retirement. This means that Germany will be spending some time playing different players in his position to see what works. His leadership, more than anything, will definitely be missed defensively.

In addition, many key players in Mats Hummels, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and others have had injury issues for most of the campaign in Euro qualifying. Joachim Löw has chosen to use some young talent in the last few games to get them used to the positions, and welcomed Mathias Ginter and Karim Bellarabi. Both players have taken time to adjust, Ginter especially who has now been dropped in favor of the now healthy Mustafi.

Simply put, injuries have definitely hurt Germany. With that in mind, though, Germany are also looking to perhaps change tactical gears even further. With the retirement of Miroslav Klose, many questions still remain if there is a striker in Germany capable of filling the giant shoes left behind. This has left Löw to focus on frequent small line-ups, often playing Mario Götze at the striker position as Germany figures out how it will present itself in 2016. Many questions still are to be answered before the 2016 tournament, and Löw will have to continue to use European qualifying as a test ground for new talent.

Needless to say, its likely way too early to panic. The Germans just crowned a wonderful year of football by beating Spain 0:1 off of a Toni Kroos thunder strike, and decimating tiny Gibraltar in qualifying 4:0 in November with most of their assets back in action.

Trainer Joachim Löw has also been nominated for Trainer of the year in 2014. In other words, Germany are far from done in trying to prove themselves. The directive from up top has been to crown 2016 in France with a Euro win, and German still have the weapons to make that happen.

When qualifying resumes, Germany will face Georgia while the two teams in front of Germany (Ireland and Poland) will square off. It’s easy to see how Germany can hop back into the driver’s seat with their remaining games. Health will be the biggest asset for Germany if they can continue to draw on their large wealth of talent.

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