Bundesliga News

Löw clarifies some midfield selection questions as new ones loom on horizon

By Peter Vice

Bundestrainer Joachim Löw offered the press open access into his insights following the UEFA Nations League 3-1 win over the Ukraine. 

Joachim Löw.
Joachim Löw.Photo: Danilo Borges/copa2014.gov.br/Creative Commons

It took some time for tactics-watchers to properly ascertain just what Jogi Löw had in mind during Saturday evening's fixture. The starting XI featured four central defenders in Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle and Robin Koch. The quartet settled into their positions after a few minutes.

Ginter shifted over the the right-fullback position whilst Koch came to rest ahead of the defensive line as a "solo six". Philipp Max worked behind Koch as the left-back.

Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF after the match, Löw revealed his reasoning in full detail.

"Ukraine are a team that relies heavily on centralized counters," Löw told reporters, "I needed one [player] in front of the defensive line to close down their [attacking] lanes."

The 60-year-old head coach remained wedded to the system even after the opposition circumvented his six and jumped out to an early lead. Löw explained that he opted not to start Gladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus after observing some errors on his part in Wednesday's friendly against the Czech Republic.

The six and eight positions remain a subject of great intrigue for Germany's Nationalelf heading forward. Neuhaus' emergence, along with that of his club teammate Jonas Hofmann, render an already large pool of starting XI candidates larger still.

With Ilkay Gündoğan, Julian Draxler, Mahmoud Dahoud, Kai Havertz, Nadiem Amiri, and Suat Serdar all staking their own unique claims to the positions, Löw has much to think about should his preferred midfield pairing of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka either falter in form or not be available through injury or illness.

There's also the matter of the team's default captain Toni Kroos, who will return to the side for Tuesday's crucial final UNL fixture against Spain. Löw indicated that the 30-year-old veteran will return to the starting XI after serving a yellow-card accumulated suspension.

The Nationalelf trainer flatly dismissed controversial comments Kroos made earlier in the week on a podcast he hosts jointly with his brother concerning the amount of fixtures footballers are forced to play.

Germany's plethora of midfield options may soon include Mario Götze if the 28-year-old continues to exhibit stellar form. Löw reaffirmed his interest in PSV Eindhoven's new-acquired attacking midfielder prior to kickoff on Wednesday's fixture.

"I was thrilled to see him get off to such a great start," Löw noted in a pre-match interview, "One has the sense that he is re-discovering his vigor, fleet feet, and overall joy of playing. Of course, one has to give him more time."

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