Berlin (MunichNOW Sport / dpa) – Germany coach Joachim Löw hopes to discover some late alternatives for his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil when his side comes up against Chile in Stuttgart on Wednesday.
Concerned over injuries to some leading players, the coach has picked four newcomers in his squad for the match and says he plans to experiment “to prepare for an emergency.”
“On paper we have a top team but the truth does not look too good at the moment,” Löw said Monday.
In comes for the first time striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga, on loan at SV Hamburg from Hertha Berlin, attacking midfielder Andre Hahn of Augsburg and defensive players Matthias Ginter of Freiburg and Shkodran Mustafi of Sampdoria.
Also recalled after more than three years is midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz, who has been successfully filling the right-back role at Borussia Dortmund.
Injuries to Sami Khedira and Ilkay Guendogan has persuaded Loew to move Philipp Lahm into midfield against Chile, given Grosskreutz the opportunity to play his way into the World Cup squad.
Lahm has been performing a midfield role under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, but has only played three of his 104 games for Germany in midfield.
Löw has left out several regulars, some of whom have struggled recently with injuries, but it’s also a sign that the fight to be in the squad for Brazil is now really hotting up.
“I am going to have to hurt some players,” Löw said of his squad selection in early May. The coach had already warned Friday that “with the World Cup in mind we won’t make any compromises.”
Chile should be a difficult test for Germany, with the South American side ranked 14th in the world by FIFA and coming off the back of some good results including a 2-2 draw with world and European champions Spain and a 2-0 defeat of England.
“Chile will be highly motivated against us. They incorporate the South American playing style in exemplary fashion with a fast and skilful direct game,” Löw said.
“They also have robust players who fight with passion and will put us under pressure. In this respect an awkward opponent to start the World Cup year and against whom we can test some variations is most welcome.”
Germany have won four and lost two of their matches against Chile, with the last encounter going back to the group stage of the 1982 World Cup in Spain when West Germany won 4-1.
Chile, who are in Group B at the World Cup with Spain, the Netherlands and Australia, are also looking forward to the opportunity of a tough game.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli has indicated he will be starting with his best side “because we don’t have many test games against such significant opponents.”
Playing against Germany “is a great challenge, one of the top title favourites.”
The match is the first of four games before the World Cup for Germany. Poland will be the opponents on May 13 in Hamburg followed by Cameroon in Moenchengladbach on June 1 and Armenia five days later in Mainz before the squad leaves for Brazil the following day.
The World Cup starts for Germany with a match against Portugal on June 16, with the US and Ghana to follow in Group G.
By Barry Whelan, dpa