FIFA Cup? I Thought That Was Next Year
Ask anyone who follows football (soccer) about FIFA’s Confederations Cup and…well, actually they might not know what the hell you’re talking about.
As with many things FIFA, the tournament has a confused history. Regardless of what it may have been in the past, the Confederations Cup now is mainly considered a “dress rehearsal”. It’s a dry run for the nation(s) and the stadiums that will host the World Cup finals which follow a year later.
So fans are likely correct to view the teams participating as “previews” of those that will be fielded at World Cup time.
Löw’s Casting Call
German manager, Joachim Löw, will be leading his side as they seek to defend their World Cup next summer in Russia. For now Löw has made it clear that he views the Confederations Cup as an audition for the pretenders seeking the honor of joining his team at the World Cup finals.
And he’s casting for some important leading roles.
The German squad that ran rampant over Brazil in 2014 — both that nation’s team and the World Cup it hosted — has suffered more than one significant loss in the 3 years since.
On the field, Löw’s squad came up short at Euro 2016 falling to Antoine Griezmann and France in the semi-finals.
Off the field, team mainstays Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose retired from international play. Klose played in four consecutive World Cup finals, as did Pelé. He is the World’s elite soccer competition’s all time leading scorer.
It’s only natural then to assume that another striker of Klose’s quality is high on Löw’s list of priorities.
After group play in the Confederations Cup it might seem that Timo Werner is the heir to Klose’s golden boot. But Werner, who may yet prove to be as talented, is not exactly in the same mould as Klose. He is the latest in a string of senior team debutants for Germany. Joshua Kimmich, Julian Draxler, and Emre Can were brought into the fray during Euro 2016.
These represent a new future for the German team. They are not the tall-trees of the past when it was so often said that “the Germans are strong in the air”. Neither are any of them true 9’s. Rather they appear to all be hybrids of both.
It is a group of players who possess Klose’s nose (or at least his “toe”) for the goal, but at the same time exhibit Philipp Lahm’s range and work-rate. Any one of them alone could be the cornerstone of a competitive professional club.
These new hybrids of course signal the coming of a new generation for the national team. And they also give warning that any previously observed tactical tendency of the German team is probably no longer valid. So building through the middle may become even more common than crossing from the wing. And danger threatens from both fullback positions—that is a threat to finish and not merely to assist.
And, as if all of these new options were not worrisome enough, opponents must now suffer another year of restless sleep, wondering: Who could Joachim Löw possibly leave at home?