A few weeks ago, no one outside
Löw won't have to make that particular decision now. Träsch picked up a nasty ankle injury in a friendly against third division Italian side FC Südtirol on Monday night and can't play in South Africa. What would have been a minor if not inconsequential blow for Germany under normal circumstances has, however, suddenly acquired the potential for a full-blown crisis of confidence. Träsch, an eager all-rounder, was desperately needed as a backup option for club teammate
Germany's predicament is almost ironic. Throughout the decade, the national team has suffered from having too many defensive midfielders, not too few. Eight of them made it into the 2002 World Cup squad, a measure of the shortage of genuine quality forwards or creative types at the time. Four years later, then-coach
A similar number would have been in Löw's squad had it not been for series of injuries and unfortunate events. Bayer Leverkusen's
Saturday night's friendly against Hungary in Budapest will certainly test Germany's new defensive duo and possible alternatives. Even if his team does well, Löw must have already come to regret his earlier announcement that all six forwards in the preliminary squad --
Kießling looks most vulnerable in that respect. Two out of
But who would grab the last-minute stand-by ticket? Sources close to the Germany camp believe Löw would be likely to call on Hitzlsperger, who is currently keeping in shape by himself under the guidance of former national team fitness coach
Löw and his staff have so far put on a very brave face. There's no need to panic, they insist. But lack of adequate cover for the very core of the team should make a change of tack imperative. Another injury scare on Wednesday, when Müller fell off his mountain bike during an exercise but suffered only superficial wounds proved that gambling on the fitness of only two central midfield specialists is a risk that Germany cannot take. There's simply not enough room for error in Group D.