Die Mannschaft 27 full of exciting youngsters
The first indication of what the Socceroos can expect in our World Cup opener against Germany in Durban June 13 was revealed last night when Joachin Low announced his provisional 27 man World Cup squad.
What was most revealing about the selection was the generational shift, with the inclusion of so many exciting youngsters, most of whom have graduated from the nation’s successful youth teams over the past few years.
To hell with it, Low has gone for broke. Take the midfield for example.
Not content with including Mesut Ozil, 21, who was expected to be picked, Low has also called up Christian Trasch, 22, Toni Kroos, 20, Sami Khedira, 23, and Marko Marin, 21.
Stuttgart’s Trasch is a versatile player who can play as a fullback or holding midfielder, Germany’s version of a Luke Wilkshire or Rhys Williams.
Some will remember Kroos as the winner of the player of the tournament at the Under 17s World Cup in 2007. An attacking midfielder, he is contracted to Bayern Munich but has been on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, and doing brilliant, scoring a goal every three games, many from long range.
Toni Kroos. Try Toni Shot!
Here’s a compilation to give you a taste.
None other the Der Kaiser, Franz Beckenbauer, has labelled him the “next Michael Ballack”.
Ozil, meanwhile, has been the next big thing for the past couple of years. He is a more creative type, a playmaker in the mould of Thomas Hassler.
Khedira is another with great youth pedigree, captaining the German under 21s side that was crowned European champions last year.
Marin, a wide player, has also been knocking on the door for a couple of seasons.
It is some line-up of emerging midfield talent, and will be complemented by the experienced trio of midfielders in Michael Ballack, Piotr Trochowski and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Not that the latter two, as 26 and 25 respectively, are exactly over the hill. Schweinsteiger, converted from a wide man to a central midfielder, has had some season.
Expect plenty of on the ball quality and plenty of run.
Low doesn’t stop there. While the defence features a bevy of established names in Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann, Philipp Lahm, Arne Friedrich and Marcell Jansen, they are complemented by an equal number of youngsters; Holger Badstuber, 21, Dennis Aogo, 23, Serdar Tasci, 23, Jerome Boateng, 21, and Andrea Beck, 23.
Many will be familiar with left sided defenders Badstuber and Aogo thanks to Bayern Munich and Hamburg’s respective runs in Europe.
Low hasn’t been shy to reward them. The same goes for exciting 20-year old second striker Thomas Muller, who has made such an impression under Louis van Gaal, combining beautifully with Ivica Olic and keeping Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez on the bench.
Klose, Gomez and Lukas Podolski get a reprieve here, but there is no such fortune for Thomas Hitzlsperger, who has been out of favour at his new club Lazio.
Torsten Frings and Kevin Kuranyi are others from the old-guard that missed out, while Simon Rolfes hasn’t recovered from a mid-season knee injury.
But Low hasn’t completely washed his hands of the veterans, re-calling Munich custodian Hans-Jorg Butt after a great season.
While there remain a couple of problems up front, Low has otherwise assembled a youthful and vibrant squad, and is likely to give Pim Verbeek a few headaches between now and June 13.
Die Nationalmannschaft will prepare for the Socceroos clash with three warm-ups, against Malta on May 15, Hungary on May 29 and Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 3.
Here is the full provisional squad:
Goalkeepers: Hans-Jorg Butt, Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese
Defenders: Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Andrea Beck, Arne Friedrich, Serdar Tasci, Marcell Jansen, Holger Badstuber, Dennis Aogo.
Midfielders: Michael Ballack, Sami Khedira, Piotr Trochowski, Marko Marin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Christian Trasch, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos.
Forwards: Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Stefan Kiessling, Cacau, Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez.
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