Forward thinking: Who could solve Germany’s striker problem?

The best goalscorers often rely on the instinct to find space in the areas of the pitch where it’s most closely guarded and the ability to keep their composure when the opportunity arrives. In Germany’s 1-1 draw with Serbia on Wednesday night, Luka Jovic and Timo Werner provided examples of poachers at opposite ends of the form and confidence scales.

After a corner was flicked on, Jovic found himself all alone in the six yard box and craned his neck to head Serbia in to an early lead. It wasn’t the trickiest of finishes but Jovic, who has 22 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt this term, was emphatic and decisive in putting it away. Shortly after, a ball fell just as kindly for Werner in a similar amount of space. The RB Leipzig striker snatched at the chance and hit the legs of the Serbian keeper.

It was the finish of a man without confidence and one who may benefit from competition for his spot as Germany’s spearhead. Werner went goalless at the World Cup, has scored just once in his last ten international games and has just one club goal in 2019. The RB Leipzig man is the only genuine striker in Joachim Löw’s current squad but which players may be capable of providing competition, or at least another option, in future?

Kevin Volland

Kevin Volland is the third most prolific German in the Bundesliga this season

Marco Reus (15) and Werner (12) are the top two German scorers in the Bundesliga with Volland (11) next on the list. The Bayer Leverkusen man has developed in to a reliable finisher and his intelligent passing and hold up play allow him to be the pivot around which Leverkusen’s collection of skilful and direct attacking midfielders can play. His clubmates Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz are among a similar collection of sparky attacking talent for Die Mannschaft, which should make transition easier for Volland and those around him.

The 26-year-old made his debut under Löw in 2014 and was one of those cut from the final squad that went on to win the World Cup. He may get a chance to add to his 10 caps before too long.

Davie Selke

Davie Selke played upfront when Germany won Olympic silver in 2016

The Hertha Berlin man, like Volland, has an excellent record for Germany’s age group teams and also led the line as Germany won silver at the 2016 Olympics. The 24-year-old was considered one of Germany’s best prospects when he broke through at Werder Bremen but his progress stalled at RB Leipzig with a string of injuries diminishing a player whose physicality is one of his greatest assets.

Though he’s not been prolific for Hertha this term, Selke has shown glimpses of the player many thought he’d become. Perhaps his greatest asset for Löw would be his ability to play with his back to goal, a skill Werner lacks, and his aerial strength would provide the national side with a different threat.

Mario Götze

Joachim Löw used Mario Götze upfront in Euro 2016

Like his Dortmund teammate Reus, Götze is far from a natural striker but the 26-year-old has played up front for BVB fairly successfully this term and has been used there by Löw before, notably at Euro 2016. Results have been mixed, with Götze’s natural tendency to drop deep often congesting play and making it difficult for Germany to stretch defenses. But the pace of Brandt, Sane and Serge Gnabry may make that less of an issue than it was when Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Julian Draxler were the supporting cast.

A rib injury is currently keeping Götze out of action but an emotional return to the Germany squad doesn’t seem too far away.

Max Kruse

Max Kruse has been in top form for Bremen of late

Werder Bremen’s talisman seems unlikely to add to his 14 caps any time soon. At 31, and with past disciplinary issues, Kruse doesn’t seem to fit with Löw’s idea of a ‘new Germany’.

But four goals and two assists in his last two games are a reminder of his undoubted talent and Kruse has shown a newfound maturity in leading a Bremen team developing under young boss Florian Kohfeldt. His touch, awareness and eye for goal suggest Kruse could be an option but will Löw be prepared to look backwards?

Nils Petersen

Nils Petersen just missed out on World Cup selection

Another player whose age may count against him. Petersen was named in Germany’s provisional World Cup squad but left out of the final 23. His initial inclusion seemed to suggest that Löw wanted to continue to have the option of a target man, a role filled by Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose in the past.

Petersen has scored five in his last six for a Freiburg side defying expectations once again. He also has a spectacular record from the bench, which may well appeal to Löw.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Leroy Sané (17 caps)

    The most controversial omission from Löw’s World Cup 2018 squad and the most internationally experienced player on this list, Sané still has plenty to prove. After a frustrating start to his Germany career, he scored his first two goals in November and started to look the part. A key member of a Manchester City squad in the hunt for four trophies, his direct running and pace make him a huge asset.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Serge Gnabry (5 caps)

    The Bayern Munich right winger offers a similar threat to Sane on the other side of the pitch. An Olympic silver medal winner in 2016, Gnabry scored a hat-trick on his debut against San Marino later that year. But fitness issues and Löw’s former faith in the old guard mean he hasn’t yet fully established himself. A strong season so far for Bayern means that’s liikely to change soon.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Kai Havertz (2 caps)

    The third member of an attacking-midfield trident that looks set to line up behind TImo Werner for some time, teenager Havertz has made great strides at the age of 19. The Bayer Leverkusen playmaker has racked up 79 Bundesliga appearances and become a key man for the Werkself. Mesut Özil’s international resignation opened a spot for the youngster who has impressed in his displays so far.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Jonathan Tah (4 caps)

    Havertz’s Leverkusen teammate was in Germany’s Euro 2016 squad but missed out on Russia. His tally of caps since his debut three years ago speaks to his struggles to break into the side. But the culling of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng offers a chance for center backs. At 23, Tah is enjoying one of his best seasons, particularly since the arrival of Peter Bosz. Can he become a regular?

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Thilo Kehrer (4 caps)

    Another man looking to take advantage of defensive vacancies. Kehrer can play at center back but may end up as Germany’s right back, with Löw keen on Joshua Kimmich in midfield. The 22-year-old left Schalke for Paris Saint-Germain and has become a regular in Thomas Tuchel’s side. Quick and strong in the tackle and on the ball, Kehrer’s concentration sometimes wanes but the potential is there.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Maximilian Eggestein (0 caps)

    A tidy central midfielder with an eye for goal, many thought the Werder Bremen man would make Germany’s squad in November after both club and player enjoyed a strong start to the season. Though the early season goals have dried up a little, the 22-year-old has an importance to Bremen which belies his relatively tender years and will hope to make his international debut in the coming week.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Niklas Stark (0 caps)

    Another new face hoping to make his full Germany bow after progressing through the youth teams, Stark has enjoyed a strong season at Hertha Berlin. The Nuremberg academy graduate is a smart reader of the game and has become an increasingly influential figure at the capital city club since moving there in 2015. While most comfortable at center back, Stark can also play as a holding midfielder.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Nico Schulz (4 caps)

    One of a number of players given the chance to fill the troublesome left-sided defensive slot in recent years, Schulz is a solid performer for Hoffenheim. The Berlin-born 25-year-old is dangerous going forward and probably more of a natrual wingback, which gives him an advantage now that Löw is looking to play three at the back. Scored a deflected winner on his debut against Peru in September.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Marcel Halstenberg (1 cap)

    Another potential replacement for Jonas Hector, who seems to have fallen out of favor while in division 2with Cologne, the RB Leipzig left-back made his debut for Germany against England in 2017 but hasn’t been seen in a Germany shirt since. At 27, he’s a late bloomer, having failed to make the grade at Borussia Dortmund as a youngster, but his strong, direct style may suit Löw’s new tactics.

  • The players of Joachim Löw’s ‘new Germany’

    Lukas Klostermann (0 caps)

    Another member of the Germany team that won silver at the Rio Olympics (which did not count as interntional caps) Klostermann is a marauding fullback comfortable bombing forward. A second RB Leipzig man, the right-sided 22-year-old has been an integral part of the Bundesliga’s tightest defense this season and is another potential beneficiary of Kimmich’s move in to midfield.

    Author: Matt Pearson

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