Joachim Loew will experiment with young stars as Germany visit Sweden.
Having failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, a motivated Sweden side began their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in fine form, beating Hungary and San Marino in succession. However, the Blagult were outplayed in their most recent match against the Netherlands, which resulted in a 4-1 loss. Now, in their last match of the 2010 calendar year, Sweden hope for a positive result against a strong Germany side.
Head coach Erik Hamren has studied his team’s tumultuous loss to the Netherlands, and believes that his team will learn from the mistakes made in Amsterdam.
“Above all, it’s our defensive work in a couple of situations where Holland were good but we might have helped them too much,” he said.
Sweden’s task will be made all the more difficult without the presence of talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who Hamren has decided to exclude from his squad.
The Milan forward “got a few knocks in the match against Inter,” on Sunday, said Hamren. “If Wednesday’s game had been a qualifying match, he would have played. On the whole, he’ll be better off resting.”
Ibrahimovic’s loss will be Denni Avdic’s gain. The 22-year old forward, who has recently played for Sweden’s U-21 team, is expected to earn his second senior level appearance ahead of Ibrahimovic.
The Germany match should serve as a good form check for Sweden. Should they earn a draw or better against their high-flying opponents, Hamren’s men will enter the 2011 year with confidence restored.
Loew To Blood Germany’s Young Stars
Germany comfortably waltzed through their first four Euro 2012 qualifiers, conceding just once and scoring 13 goals on their way to a perfect 12 points. The Nationalelf have not missed a beat since finishing third at the 2010 World Cup.
That does not mean that Joachim Loew is fully satisfied. The coach has taken Wednesday’s friendly as an opportunity to rest established stars such as Thomas Mueller, Mesut Oezil, and Philipp Lahm, and offer chances for his young stars to prove their worth. Whether DFB newcomers Mario Goetze, Lewis Holtby, Andre Schuerrle, and Marcel Schmelzer will be able to challenge the old guard remains in question, according to Loew.
“We’ll know in a few weeks or maybe at some point next year,” he told reporters in a pre-match press conference.
Loew has taken inspiration from Sebastian Vettel, who recently became the youngest Formula 1 champion in history.
“He pulled it off because of his tremendous determination, his professionalism, and his meticulous work habits.”
The Germany gaffer believes that in Germany, there are many young footballers who share Vettel’s ambition.
“Five or six years ago, our under 21 players did not play a major role at their clubs, but that has changed. Between 18 and 22 years is such an important phase in their development.”
Accordingly, Loew has rewarded his young stars. Each is expected to make an appearance on Wednesday in what is sure to be an exciting match.
In addition to Ibrahimovic, Hamren will be without injured centre half Olof Mellberg. Otherwise, the new coach should have a full squad at his disposal.
Probable Starting XI: Isaksson – Lustig, Granqvist, Majstorovic, Safari – Larsson, Svensson, Wernbloom – Toivonen – Avdic, Elmander
Thomas Mueller, Philipp Lahm and Mesut Oezil have been omitted from Loew’s squad, and Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Dennis Aogo, Marcell Jansen, and Michael Ballack have all been ruled out with injuries. Loew is expected to shuffle his line-up, but his starting XI remains shrouded in mystery. The only confirmed starter is Rene Adler, who will replace Manuel Neuer in goal.
Probable Starting XI: Adler – Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Grosskreutz, Kroos, Marin – Gomez