Germany coach Joachim Loew maintains his course
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany coach Joachim Loew opted not to recall the in-form Stefan Kiessling for his side’s two remaining World Cup qualifiers despite injuries to his regular strikers.
Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez are out of the games against Ireland in Cologne next Friday and Sweden in Stockholm four days later, but Kiessling failed to make the squad on Friday despite holding talks with Loew during the week.
Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski is also injured, leaving Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Max Kruse as the only forward in the 22-man squad.
Kiessling, who has five goals and three assists in seven league games for Bayer Leverkusen, hasn’t played for Germany since the 2010 World Cup.
“I told him I’m counting on Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose as strikers firstly and behind them are one or two other players that I want to test this year,” Loew said in an interview on the German football federation’s website. “I told him I can’t see the future, I don’t know what will happen next year, but if I were to nominate him for the World Cup - if one of the other players isn’t in form over a long period or is injured - he’d be prepared to step in. I think that’s class.”
Loew said he was aware of what the 29-year-old Kiessling offers, and that he respects the player’s performances in the Bundesliga.
“It wouldn’t really be fair on him if he was called up once and then sent away. He has scored a lot of goals, he’s almost 30, and from there we’ve established that, if he’s needed by me and the national team, he’s available,” Loew said.
Bayern Munich midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze are back in the squad after recovering from their respective injuries. Neither player has played for Germany since the qualifiers against Kazakhstan in March.
“Bastian is a very important player for us due to his leadership,” Loew said. “Mario is coming off a long break and he now needs game practice and routine. I’m very happy that they’re both back on board.”
Loew also recalled Hamburger SV defender Marcell Jansen, who missed the 3-0 wins over Austria and the Faeroe Islands in September, but Borussia Dortmund defender Marcel Schmelzer and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan are both injured.
Germany would qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil with a win against Ireland, while even a point from its last two games would all but secure its place.
Ireland maintains only a mathematical chance of a playoff spot and will be playing its first game without veteran Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
“Everyone knows of the fighting strength and passion of the Irish. We’ll have to be highly concentrated against them from the first minute. Ireland will be highly motivated against us and won’t gift us anything,” Loew said.
Sweden fought back from four goals down to earn a 4-4 with Germany when the sides met in Berlin in October 2012.
Loew is expecting another tough game in Stockholm, particularly as the Swedes are second in the group ahead of Austria, which is also fighting for the playoff place.
“The Swedes have outstanding individual players, not just Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But their strength lies in the unity of their team. They showed that in the home game,” Loew said.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Rene Adler (Hamburger SV), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover).
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal).
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Julian Draxler (Schalke), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sidney Sam (Bayer Leverkusen), Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).
Forward: Max Kruse (Borussia Moenchengladbach).