By Josh Reich
THE German national team is an inspiration for other countries seeking to develop a style of their own, England manager Roy Hodgson said as he prepares his side to face their old rivals at Wembley on Tuesday (10pm).
After Germany were bundled out of the 2004 European Championships without winning a game coach Rudi Voeller was dumped in favour of Juergen Klinsmann and assistant Joachim Loew, who confounded expectations in leading the side to third-place at the 2006 World Cup on home soil.
Loew took the reigns following that tournament and set about furthering the rejuvenation of the team, introducing younger players and developing a pleasing style on the pitch.
Despite failing to win a tournament since the 1996 European Championship, Germany have risen to second in the world rankings and are expected, along with Spain, to lead the European challenge at the Brazil World Cup next year.
“I think the German FA were very wise in their attitude to changing the face of the national team and building it on youth and a very energetic style of play,” Hodgson told the Football Association’s website (www.thefa.com) on Sunday.
“Of course, as a result, the success they’ve had has not surprised anybody because we all know how good the players are and how strong the league is.”
England find themselves in a similar position heading into the Brazil finals, with the current squad featuring experienced players such as captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who are nearing the end of their careers and the likes of youngsters such as Andros Townsend who are just starting out.
The FA has been criticised for failing to develop a blueprint for the game in England, although new FA chairman Greg Dyke has set up a commission to look at ways to improve the level of the national team.
Hodgson, who is on the 10-person panel, said they could do worse than look at Tuesday’s opponents for inspiration.
“The German team has become something of an example for many other European teams who might find themselves in a transitional period that Germany obviously found themselves in going into the 2006 World Cup,” he added.
“As far as we’re concerned, we are perhaps to some extent in that transitional period I mentioned Germany found themselves in 2006.
“We have what we think is a very exciting group of young players coming along and we still have a backbone of experienced players that have been to World Cups before.
“I would like to think we can give a very good account of ourselves when we get to Brazil.”
Germany will be without Real Madrid striker Sami Khedira, who is expected to be out of action for six months following successful surgery on torn knee ligaments, while skipper Philipp Lahm, first-choice keeper Manuel Neuer and playmaker Mesut Ozil will be rested for the high-profile friendly as Loew seeks to give other players time on the pitch.
The absence of Bayern Munich stopper Neuer will offer Borussia Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller a chance to make his international debut, highlighting the depth of the German set-up.
He has been in outstanding form for Dortmund in recent seasons, but has earned his first call-up to the senior squad at 33 as he looks to force his way into the reckoning for next year’s World Cup.
Rene Adler, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ron-Robert Zieler are also in the mix for the reserve keepers positions.
“We don’t need to make any decisions with regard to the goalkeepers or indeed any other positions just yet,” Loew told the German football association (DFB) website.
“The squad for the tournament will be named in May 2014. Until then, we’re glad to have the opportunity to test out any tactics or players we can. Competition for places is only going to get tougher over the next few months.”
England, who lost 2-0 at home to Chile on Friday, have not beaten Germany at home since 1975.
By Josh Reich