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Honigstein: Low begins German rebuild

Germany Sep 3, 2014
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 Posted by Susie Schaaf
Jun 2, 2014

Questions loom over Germany after draw

ESPN FC's Tommy Smyth believes Philipp Lahm can lead Germany throughout the World Cup.

Germany controlled large parts of their 2-2 draw with Cameroon in Moenchengladbach on Sunday evening, when a scoreless first half made way for a four-goal second.

Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring for the away side only to have Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller draw level just minutes later. Another Chelsea member, Andre Schurrle, fired the Germans ahead, but Mainz 05's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting got the last laugh -- drawing the Indomitable Lions level with 12 minutes remaining.

While a draw is certainly not the worst result Germany could have before their last friendly against Armenia on Friday, some questions still beg to be answered. And for coach Joachim Loew, unaccustomed to having so many key players missing -- and others not at peak form -- he'll face a stern test in Brazil, with a whole nation at home wondering if die Nationalmannschaft can get their act together.

The first person to come under fire was Arsenal's Mesut Ozil as Loew admitted, post-match, that the midfielder wasn't sharp -- his form continuing from his second-half slump this season at the Emirates.

"Mesut Ozil has not had his best day," he said. "He needs two more weeks, then we'll see a strong Mesut at the World Cup."

With captain Philipp Lahm missing, Bayern teammate Jerome Boateng filled in at right-back, while Borussia Dortmund's Eric Durm took to the left side. In Boateng's case, it's a position he hasn't played often, and it showed, as he had trouble with Choupo-Moting's pace at times.

Maybe this move from Loew was just exploratory, as the coach is certainly looking for options should Lahm be used in defensive midfield instead of the back four. But, one must keep in mind that Germany's first match is against Portugal and whoever features on the right will be charged with containing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Andre Schurrle scored with his first touch after being brought on on Sunday evening

FC Bayern's Mario Goetze started brightly as Loew continued the German "false nine" experiment, but he ran flat after the first half, leading to his substitution at the 60th minute. Teammate Mueller -- taking a more central role after Goetze was off -- was a much more direct, viable option.

With only one true striker in Miroslav Klose making the final cut, Loew may end up be forced to use the "false nine" should something befall the Lazio forward. The formation, however, has failed to truly impress when employed by the DFB, and with just one match left before Brazil, now might not be the time to continue this tack.

Khedira, in just his second match back after injury, was a completely different player than the one on the pitch during Real Madrid's Champions League win over Atletico Madrid. While he looked unfit and unsure in Lisbon, his form has markedly improved since -- and not a moment too soon. With lingering doubts over Bastian Schweinsteiger's tendonitis, Loew will be heartily gladdened with Kherdira's quick turnaround.

Dortmund's Marco Reus, and Mueller -- while he played on the wing -- had some trouble providing for Ozil and Goetze. That, combined with a decided lack of overlapping runs from Durm and Boateng in support, stagnated Germany's offense. And when they did manage to get shots off, again as in the past, they had a hard time finding the back of the net.

"With us, one has noticed that the freshness is missing. Our passing game was not good and we made many, many mistakes," Loew said post-match. "If we had taken the lead, it would have helped the team. It pervades through the last few years that we need many opportunities (to score)."

Cameroon, ranked 50th, and Armenia, 33rd, are decent tests for Germany heading in to Brazil, but the expectation was that both would be won. However disappointing Sunday's draw was, Germany has to find a way to travel on a positive note. And a comprehensive win over Armenia on Friday might just quell some nagging doubts that this German team is falling apart.