By Clark Whitney | Germany Expert
It's settled. On Monday, Joachim Low named his 23-man Germany squad to play at Euro 2012. In all positions, there is an abundance of class. For the most part, there is a balance: three goalkeepers, seven defenders, seven midfielders, and six attackers. But in among the forwards there are just two natural strikers.
Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez made the final cut, as expected. But the third No. 9 from Low's initial 27-man selection, Cacau, was dropped, leaving the German team perilously thin in the focal point of their attack.
It was foreseeable that Cacau would be sacrificed: the 31-year-old was not always a starter at Stuttgart last season, and scored just eight goals in the Bundesliga. His statistics are not exactly becoming of an international footballer. Curiously, Low did not call up competition for the Brazil-born striker in his initial squad. Instead, the trainer brought in uncapped talents Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Julian Draxler, the latter of whom never had the slightest chance of
In fairness to Low, there was little he could do after making the decision to call up Cacau. The coach's decision was heavily criticised in the German media, and fans had little tolerance for the out-of-form veteran. There was little applause for Cacau when he came off the bench in Saturday's loss to Switzerland, and he was heavily jeered for misplacing a simple pass in a counter-attacking situation. There was no other option, he had to go.
Now Low faces quite a conundrum in attack. Miroslav Klose is a national hero, a player who time and time again has proven his class on the international stage. But he will turn 34 in just over a week, and the head coach admitted he is out of form following a thigh injury. The Lazio man was a shadow of his former shelf in the Switzerland match, which does not bode well for his tournament readiness.
Klose's deputy, Mario Gomez, also has a major question mark hanging over his head. The Bayern man relies heavily on rhythm to score. When he reaches form, he nets goals by the dozen. When he does not find the target or play for quite some time, it often takes him a few games to gather momentum once more. Even if he starts in Germany's Euro opener on June 9 against Portugal, Gomez will not have found the target in well over a month. With his last goal having being scored on April 28, he enters the tournament devoid of any momentum.
Confidence has always been a concern for Gomez, who still has yet to score in a major international tournament. He has improved on the club stage again and again, but even at 26, he still does not inspire confidence that he can be relied upon to perform on the greatest stage.
|"As a player, [Reus] can be used in different positions. I would like to see him up front, that we can test in training. He's never played there before, but for me it's a possibility"
- Joachim Low
There is a tertiary option for Low in the form of Marco Reus. The 23-year-old had a phenomenal season with Borussia Monchengladbach, scoring 21 goals and assisting a further 14 in 37 club appearances. His introduction in the Switzerland match resulted in a significant improvement to the German attack, and in that match he scored his first-ever international goal. But against Switzerland, Reus played alongside Klose, and the question still remains as to whether the youngster can operate as a lone centre forward as Low recently claimed. He certainly is a very different form of striker, not the kind Germany typically use.
On Monday, Low came to the same conclusion that fans and pundits everywhere made weeks ago - that Cacau just is not ready to play at Euro 2012. There were other options, and good ones at that, who could have been nominated, but the coach instead decided to blood a couple youngsters who never would have made an impression at the tournament. And now he is left with three strikers, each of whom raises serious concerns. In a league season, this would be no problem. But in a tournament, with no room for error, it's a major hurdle to overcome. Low has made his job much harder than it had to be, and he now has just 11 days to sort his attack, or face embarrassment.
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