Germany to test youngsters against Slovakia ahead of Euro 2016
Germany football team chief coach Joachim Loew is trying to find the best mix for his Euro 2016 squad. To avoid the mistakes made by Spain in 2014 when the Iberians only chose experienced and “old” players for the World Cup squad, the 56-year-old Loew is counting on selecting a number of talented youngsters, reports Xinhua.
Loew’s answer to the “age-problem” is the German “youth revolution”. But they have to pass a final test in Sunday’s friendly against Slovakia in Augsburg. On May 31, Loew will make his final decision about his final 23-player squad.
In Loew’s spotlight will be youngsters such as Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Leroy Sane (FC Schalke 04/both 20), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) and Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund/both 21).
Despite their age, the quartet performed remarkably during the 2015/2016 club football season. Loew is trying to use that fact to increase pressure on his experienced players.
Loew is expected to choose at least three of the four youngsters to be part of the first eleven against Slovakia. Brandt, Kimmich and Weigl are expected to be in the starting eleven.
“Every team needs an update and some new faces. Maybe a World champion even more than others,” Loew said.
Offensive midfielder Brandt helped Leverkusen to qualify for next season’s Champions League with several goals. “He has the ability to combine with his teammates in tight space,” Loew said.
Sane is the only one that has been previously picked by Loew as he was part of the German squad last November in a friendly against France. “He has the special ability to provide refinement, he is outstandingly gifted,” he commented.
As for Kimmich, the Bayern defender is widely regarded to be on the way to becoming a “second Philipp Lahm” as his passing and defending qualities are similar to Germany’s retired 2014 World Cup winning captain. “Joshua can play different positions, we value his ability to be a part of the defense as well as in our midfield,” Loew said. At his club, Kimmich last season was part of the first team in important Champions League games as well as in the German Cup final.
When it comes to Weigl, Loew admires his “passing abilities” as well as “his ability to read the game and be in the center of decisions that have to be made in midfield and to propel the game into the right direction”. Weigl was part of Dortmund’s excellent Bundesliga season.
The question now is: How many risks is Loew willing to take? Meaning: How many of his kindergarten will be part of his Euro 2016 squad. Loew is not only known to do intensive testing to find new faces, but at the same time to trust many of his key figures that helped to win the 2014 World Cup, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United) and Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray Istanbul).
In the case of Schweinsteiger, Loew is willing to wait until the last second as the midfielder is recovering from an injury. After suffering from several knee injuries, Schweinsteiger had to endure a difficult season in the English Premier League.
As for Podolski, Loew said, his “value for the team goes beyond his footballing ability”. Podolski recently won the Turkish cup with his club, but his season generally was far from satisfying. Not only Schweinsteiger and Podolski, who are most likely part of Germany’s final squad, will have to keep a close eye on their younger challengers.
Besides Schweinsteiger, Emre Can (Liverpool), Sebastian Rudy (TSG Hoffenheim), Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg), Benedikt Hoewedes (FC Schalke 04/recovered recently from an injury), Mats Hummels (Dortmund/current injury) and Karim Bellarabi (Leverkusen) might be on Loew’s red list.
Over the past few weeks, Loew made it clear that he is desperate to win the 2016 tournament starting from June 10 in France. After all Germany’s last European title was won as far back as 1996 when national chief coach Hans-Hubert Vogts won the competition in England. Germany has therefore been waiting for its next European title for 20 years now.
Loew has therefore spent many hours choosing a squad that can deliver a similar team spirit to the one in 2014. Team spirit was one of the major factors for Germany’s success in Brazil.
“We still need to grow together as a team,” Loew said while practicing with his squad in the German pre-tournament training-camp in Switzerland near the Lago Maggiore in Ascona.
“You can’t win a tournament like the one in France with just eleven players; you need the power of your entire squad. We still have some work to do.”