One of the great strengths of this Germany team is their embarrassment of riches in most positions, with young, classy, eager players competing with established talent.
The search for a regular left-back, however, has been ongoing almost since Andreas Brehme – whose crosses with both feet and fearsome free-kicks helped West Germany take the 1990 FIFA World Cup – played his last international in 1994. Christian Ziege, Jörg Heinrich, Marco Bode and Marcell Jansen have all featured in that slot since, yet none made it their own quite like Brehme.
At the 2010 World Cup, coach Joachim Löw started with central defender Holger Badstuber at left-back, before Jerome Boateng and Dennis Aogo were also tried out. Subsequently, Marcel Schäfer, Philipp Lahm, Heiko Westermann and Marcel Schmelzer, as well as Jansen and Aogo, have had chances to make the position their own. UEFA.com checks out the candidates for this long-standing vacancy.
Dennis Aogo, 24 (Hamburger SV)
Born to a Nigerian father and a German mother, Aogo's strong left boot could be a vital asset as Löw looks to get decent service to centre-forward totems such as Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez. Tactically astute and a good passer, Aogo may have been questioned for an apparent unwillingness to surge upfield, but Löw said: "Dennis is definitely good at bringing the ball forward." Aogo added: "The Bundestrainer told me my time would come after the World Cup."
Marcell Jansen, 25 (Hamburger SV)
He was the nation's great hope at left-back going into UEFA EURO 2008, yet a combination of injuries and some defensive lapses have tempered Jansen's obvious abilities going forward. Löw said: "Marcell Jansen has a part in our plans. He has skills which can be very important for us, for instance his keenness to go towards goal. When he is in good form, he is an alternative on the left." Perhaps he could be most effective, however, as a left-sided midfielder.
Jerome Boateng, 22 (Manchester City FC)
Boateng replaced Badstuber at left-back in South Africa and performed solidly enough without doing much in attacking terms. Given that he is right-footed and powerful in the air, his ruggedness and strength would seem to be better deployed from a centre-back or holding midfield berth, although Löw said: "One of his qualities is his versatility, he can play well in many positions. Also, he made a strong impression when the Under-21s won the European title in 2009."
Marcel Schmelzer, 23 (Borussia Dortmund)
One of the stars of the Bundesliga leaders' season, Madgeburg-born Schmelzer won his first cap in the 0-0 friendly draw with Sweden on 17 November, playing 90 minutes at left-back. As well as possessing a strong left foot, his positioning and ability to switch quickly from defence to attack have been noted, though he must demonstrate he has the composure to figure consistently at national-team level. Löw admitted: "Marcel Schmelzer is a candidate as left-back, a position for which we have been looking for a permanent solution for several years."
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