It was a summer to forget for Germany and their national team. Failure to advance from their World Cup group which included Mexico, South Korea and Sweden, Joachim Löw’s managerial skills came into question following sub-par performances.
Unlike four years ago, there was a sense of uncertainty around this Germany squad once the squads had been announced. Löw once again put faith in his old guards, such as Sami Khedira, Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez while the likes of Leroy Sané were left at home, a decision that angered fans.
But now their World Cup catastrophe is behind them and with Löw remaining with the national team having signed a contract until 2022 prior their campaign in Russia, it’s time for the coaching staff to rebuild Germany into a force once again.
Mesut Özil’s resignation from the national team has paved the way for Leverkusen’s Havertz. The 19-year-old rightly deserves his place in die Mannschaft following an impressive season under Heiko Herrlich. His three goals and nine assists in 30 Bundesliga games last campaign helped Leverkusen back into European football.
Featuring in both games for Leverkusen in 2018/19, Havertz has been their standout player despite consecutive defeats for the BayArena outfit. The young playmaker can play in central midfield but can also operate further forward while his game is more structured than Julian Brandt’s, who he’s developed a great understanding with.
We must remember that the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Müller and Özil were all awarded their first Germany cap at a young age. It certainly wouldn’t be a shock to see Havertz play some role over this international break while the Leverkusen teenager could well be the next biggest star in Germany.
In defence, Germany have two news faces in the squad. 21-year-old Kehrer was one of the best central defenders in the Bundesliga last season while his progression under Domenico Tedesco hasn’t gone unnoticed. Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain splashed €37 million on the defender this summer after it emerged that Thomas Tuchel is a huge fan of the while he could well become Germany’s next defensive star.
Able to play in a back three or four, Kehrer can operate in central defence, left or right-back. His versatility and pace plays a big role in modern football with defenders being more than just that. At 21, Kehrer also has good distribution and a cool head while early signs suggest that PSG’s new €37m signing will be worth every penny.
It’s difficult to pinpoint where Löw see’s Kehrer’s best position given that Mats Hummels and one of Jerome Boateng or Niklas Süle are his best options in central defence. But with that added versatility, we could see Kehrer behind Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector in the pecking order to play as a full-back.
Finally, Hoffenheim defender Nico Schulz has been included in the squad. Perhaps the surprise of the trio, the 25-year-old certainly deserves a shot in Löw’s side, especially if he opts for a three-man defence. Schulz’ best performances come when he’s deployed in a more attacking formation. A left wing-back, Schulz would much rather find himself putting in crosses as opposed to having to worry about defending – this is an area that has let him down for Hoffenheim. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wise to feature Schulz on the left-side of a back four.
The 25-year-old would certainly add a different dynamic to this Germany squad while he’s a different option to Cologne left-back Jonas Hector. It’s unlikely that he would start against France, but he would certainly provide a different option should he be called upon.
Overall, it’s a bold move for Löw to call up Havertz, Kehrer and Schulz but it’s something he needed to do. Following their disastrous showing in Russia, the coaching staff needed something new, something fresh in this Germany squad while they may have just found the answer.
The trio all offer something to Germany that they haven’t already got. Havertz has a different skillset to Özil, Leon Goretzka and Julian Brandt while Kehrer ability to play several roles is perhaps something Germany are missing in defence. Finally, Schulz offers pace and can put a good cross in, something that Germany struggled to do at the World Cup.
The next couple of months will be crucial for Löw and Germany. They must show that they’ve improved from their showing in Russia while it’s now time that they showcase their next talent.
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