Neuville may be surprise starter

German Football
By German Football June 14, 2008 14:38

Neuville may be surprise starter

Germany coach Joachim Löw has promised changes after his side’s 2-1 loss to Croatia on Thursday and Borussia Monchengladbach striker Oliver Neuville could be the surprise in attack.

However, the suspension of Bastian Schweinsteiger, due to a red card that he earned in stoppage time in the Croatia loss, may complicate Löw’s team selection for Monday’s all important clash with hosts Austria in Vienna. The Bayern Munich midfielder had looked lively when he came on against the Croatians but an unforgivable rush of blood to the head resulted in the first red card of the tournament and means he can not gain further momentum in what could be Germany’s last game of the competition. Defeat to Austria would bring a shock end to Germany’s presence at Euro 2008, which is why Löw needs to pick a team which is fully committed to winning on Monday.

‘We need 100% concentration from all the players,’ said Löw. ‘They did not show their true colours against Croatia. You can take it for granted that we will make changes.’

Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez has failed to set the tournament alight as expected and persisting rumours of interest from Barcelona and Bayern Munich appear to be distracting him. Strike partner Miroslav Klose has looked a shadow of his usual self and the hangover from a disappointing personal end to the Bundesliga season appears to have been carried over into the national team. Löw may therefore be pondering switching Podolski, scorer of all three Germany goals so far in the competition, into the attack, but without Schweinsteiger to take his place on the left wing, that option is more complicated. Furthermore, the Bayern striker was unable to even walk on Friday due to an ankle injury and is a major doubt for the final group game.

Neuville, famed for scoring crucial goals such as the one against Poland in the 2006 World Cup, could therefore be the man to bring his experience to the big occasion. He and Kevin Kuranyi have been waiting patiently on the sidelines during the first two games with the Schalke striker getting a handful of minutes against Croatia, but not enough to make an impact. Both could well be given their chance to fire Germany into the last eight.

‘We will make some corrections to the team, but will stick to our system, which we have been successful with,’ added Löw. ‘We are not going out of this tournament yet and we will make the quarter-finals.’

Heiko Westermann damaged ligaments in his right hand in training on Friday and needed a plaster-cast to protect the injury while a bruised calf prevented Philipp Lahm from taking part in the session on Friday. Marcel Jansen was also sidelined with a shoulder injury, but all three should still be available for selection on Monday.

German Football
By German Football June 14, 2008 14:38
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