Being a football fan is wonderful. A match may last 90 minutes, but how many more hours are spent considering it before and after? Don't we all just love playing fantasy football or pretending we are the coach?
I asked on Twitter for readers to send suggestions for Germany's lineup for Saturday's UEFA EURO 2012 opener against Portugal and you have made some interesting points. Many suggested starting players like André Schürrle, Mats Hummels, Mario Götze and Marco Reus, almost all of you wanted Mario Gomez in the XI, while some went for a 4-4-2 to accommodate both Miroslav Klose and Gomez. Intriguing as it is, this will surely not happen.
Now I get to introduce my first XI. While it is great fun to pretend you are the coach of a big team and to make the selections, being a real coach (even only at youth level) has taught me that it is hard to make calls looking from the outside in – the boss gets to see his players train day in, day out; we don't.
When my choices have been questioned, I have often asked myself: "What do they know?" Of course the punters were less well informed. So we are missing a huge part of the decision-making process. Was Löw intimating that Lars Bender could start at right-back a ruse or was he so convinced by what he saw in training?
Anyway, ignore all that because here is my take: Manuel Neuer is a given. I would still play Philipp Lahm at right-back and Jérôme Boateng as left-back, just for this match (as I explained here). I like Marcel Schmelzer, but he is for 2014. In central defence I would go with Holger Badstuber and Hummels. Löw will plump for Mertesacker but this Germany side is expected to operate higher up the pitch so in my humble opinion Hummels, the best centre-back in the Bundesliga the last two seasons, seems a better choice.
Other than that, I nominate the same players Löw is likely to deploy. The midfield composed of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski is proven, and while I am a big fan of Gomez, I would begin with Klose and use the younger man off the bench. Schürrle could also be a super sub if required. I would love to play Götze and Reus, but just can't find room for them.
What do you think? Post your starting XIs below.
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