Friday, May 7, 2010

Germany's Team, Plus Four

Joachim Low today revealed the 27 finalists for the 23 slots on Germany's team.

This is important because the Germans are among the half-dozen teams who could actually win South Africa 2010.

Some of the highlights:

--Who's here? Michael Ballack, who was alternately hurt and ineffective this season at Chelsea. But don't you have to take the recognized leader of recent German teams? Until someone clearly has replaced him? Lukas Podolski is here after a shaky season. Miroslav Klose is hanging around. Seems as if he's scored a lot of clutch goals, doesn't it?

--Who isn't? Kevin Kuranyi, the forward who doesn't get along with Low, so Low apparently has decided he can get along without him. Will it hurt the Germans? We find out next month. Also, midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who helped the Germans qualify and midfielder Torsten Frings, who thinks he is anything but done; Low begs to differ. And top goalkeeper Rene Adler, who is injured.

--And the big surprises. The two guys off the Under-21 team, Bayern defender Holger Badstuben and Dennis Aogo.

--And the big surprise (not): Seven guys from Bayern Munich. Low likes the idea of players who are coming from successful club seasons, and it's hard to beat what Bayern is doing -- including that Champions League final date with Inter.

Fairly typically, the Germans don't look overpowering. But World Cup history is rife with German teams that didn't look like world beaters ... getting to the semis -- or to the VIP tribune to shake hands with the Fifa president after winning the whole shootin' match.

The Germans seem to be able to turn it up in the World Cup, combining supreme tactics with discipline and cohesion, and a sort of deep-seated confidence ... to get deep into nearly every tournament.

The consensus seems to be that Germany will score, and will get good play in goal, presumably from Manuel Neuen, but is shaky in the back, particularly in the middle, and not as dynamic in midfield as it was back when Ballack was in his prime.

The one-man consensus here is ... don't expect Germany to lose before the semifinals.
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