It was two months ago that the German Men’s National Team was ousted from the World Cup by the injury-ridden South Korea in a stunning 2-0 loss.
Since then, much has happened behind the scenes of the DFB (German Federation) including Mesut Özil retirement, where he addressed his struggles within the federation and the German squad about his Turkish heritage, calling DFB President Reinhard Grindel a racist.
Many of Özil’s German teammates have spoken out against the midfielder as well, showing that Özil was perhaps the ugly duckling of the squad after all.
As that happened, the German Federation continued to put their faith in long time coach Joachim Löw, and the manager has began the process of adding German youth to this stale German side in his latest international call-up.
The squad included Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, Hoffenhiem full-back Nico Shultz and PSG’s newest center half Thilo Kehrer, all newcomers to the German first team. Löw also decided to reinstate Manchester City’s Leroy Sané, Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah and the runner-up for the Bundesliga Golden Boot, Nils Petersen, all three of which found themselves unlucky to make the final 23 this summer.
Although it is only one call-up for friendlies against France and Peru, this is a step in the right direction for the future of Germany.
Kai Havertz is the heir-apparent to Özil, albeit a bit of a different player. The 19-year-old likes to run with the ball, drawing defenders to him with his stature to which he uses to shake off opposition. His vision is superb as well, finding and converting deadly ball to runners with ease. Havertz craves the ball, always wanting to dictate play from whereever he drifts on the field. With 35 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen last season, Havertz was the crux of Die Werkself, becoming just as, if not more, important than Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey.
Löw has always been fond of Jonathan Tah, but it is Thilo Kehrer who was the surprising, yet perfect, choice to start getting senior caps. The now-PSG center back had a superb season, most notably known for his fearlessness in the air, particularly seen with a nasty black eye towards the back end of the season.
Kehrer fits the mold of a “modern defender” with his versatility across defense, his ball playing abilities and his quickness on and off the ball, something Germany’s backline has lacked with Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng as they’ve aged.
Leroy Sané and Julian Brandt are obvious choices now, both with the capabilities to be difference makers with their trickery, and will only continue to mature with experience, while the youth is balanced out with a healthy and resurgent Marco Reus, leader Thomas Müller and the brilliant Toni Kroos.
Yet, even with the livening up of this German side, there is still an air of must lingering around the staff room. Jogi Löw has now been a part of the German coaching staff for 14 years. That’s 4 World Cups and 5 European Championships now, with zero signs he’s leaving even after that horrendous World Cup performance.
And seeing as this failure has a bit of “rebuild” written all over it, keeping Jogi around is a very odd decision. But, the DFB and Löw himself have chosen continuity over a restart, but if it fails, it will be Löw who will be set aflame and the German Federation left to deal with shoveling the ashes.