Joachim Löw has two options in terms of team selection for Friday's quarter-final against Greece in Gdansk.
And no, I am not talking about who to field at right-back after Lars Bender, deputising for the suspended Jérôme Boateng, scored the winner against Denmark. It is a much more fundamental choice that Löw needs to make: namely, will he stick with the proven players who won him nine points in the 'group of death', or will he introduce some of the talented squad members who have spent most of the tournament on the bench so far?
The media in Germany have been focusing on the likes of André Schürrle (26 minutes), Toni Kroos (18 minutes), Marco Reus (zero minutes) and Mario Götze (zero minutes) over the past few days. And why not? Pundits, former internationals and plenty of coaches have come to the same conclusion: Greece will be very difficult to break down and the Nationalmannschaft could use some fresh impetus, more creativity and different ideas.
Götze could replace the tired-looking Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski could make way for the lively Schürrle and Thomas Müller could stand aside for Reus, scorer of 18 Bundesliga goals this season. Some have even suggested, dare I say it, that three-goal hero Mario Gomez ought to leave his starting berth to the more versatile Miroslav Klose in this game. The defence (aside from the right-back) and Sami Khedira have been deemed untouchable, on the other hand.
I have to burst a few bubbles here, because Löw sees things differently. Defending is his most important principle at this tournament. Not in the sense that he wants his team to park the bus, but that he expects his wide midfielders to track back. A lot. He knows he will get that from Müller and Podolski as well, and has praised them repeatedly for it in the past weeks. He is not so sure about Reus, Schürrle or Götze in that regard.
He sees so much attacking quality in his side that he knows they hardly ever go without scoring a goal. But coming back from conceding a goal, especially against Greece, is an incredibly difficult – just ask Russia. The fact that he predicted that Özil's performances are "about to explode" proves he is far from replacing him. So I fully expect him to field the same starting XI as in the matches against Portugal and the Netherlands. What do you think?
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