The German national football team has high hopes leading into this year’s prestigious FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but their chances of winning the coveted trophy were hamstrung when Lars Bender was forced to leave the German provisional squad due to a thigh injury. The injury comes a mere two days into the German preparations for the FIFA World Cup, and is just the latest in a string of injuries to German players, prompting football analyst Raphael Honigstein to comment that German players were dropping like flies.
Some of the most important injuries facing the German national squad at this point include injuries to Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Sami Khedira, and starting goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. All of these aforementioned players are seasoned veterans of the German national team, with each having started for Die Mannschaft in the past. Fortunately for Germany, not all of these players have been ruled out for the tournament, and most seem to be well along the road to recovery. For example, it has been reported that Lahm is nearly fit to rejoin his teammates in training, while Schweinsteiger has allegedly been cleared to participate in team practices. Furthermore, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Sami Khedira is currently only limited by a lack of match fitness, and not by any knee injury. However, Germany’s hopes of winning the FIFA World Cup are still under threat from injuries to Klose and Neuer, both of whom have injuries of unknown severity.
The German national team, who are currently training in South Tyrol for an upcoming friendly against Cameroon, are likely to miss Bender, as his thigh injury has hamstrung Joachim Loew, the German national coach, in his ability to prepare the German midfield for the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Although Germany has players such as Schweinsteiger, Kroos, and Gotze in midfield, Bender added an element of defensive stability, as can be seen from the fact that he has more tackles over the past three Bundesliga seasons than any other player, with 338. Analysts have questioned the extent to which Loew will be able to replace this defensive stalwart in the German midfield, and to what extent this will effect the team’s performance.
Loew commented that he was sorry to see Bender succumb to injury so soon before the beginning of the tournament, commenting that the 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen star acted as a role model on and off the pitch. However, the extent of the injury could have serious consequences for Bender even beyond the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as his rumoured transfer to Arsenal has been reported to be dependent upon the extent of this latest injury.
Germany, who are set to face Ghana, Portugal, and the United States of America in Group G, have been picked by certain analysts as the favourites to win this year’s tournament, although this prediction could well change after this latest injury to a key midfield player. Even before the beginning of training camp Germany was suffering from injury problems, with veterans Mario Gomez and Ilkay Guendogan failing to make Loew’s provisional squad due to their struggle to return to fitness after injury plagued seasons. In any case, it is clear that this latest injury has further hamstrung Germany’s chances of winning this year’s FIFA World Cup, although analysts have not yet started to count them out entirely.
By Nicholas Grabe