Desmond Kane

Germany don’t need a striker to end 24-year wait for World Cup glory

Desmond Kane

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Spot the striker: Germany pose for a quick picture with German chancellor Angela Merkel after the 4-0 drubbing of Portugal in Salvador. Picture taken from Twitter.

It is difficult to believe 20 years have passed since the German national squad teamed up with The Village People to release Far Away In America prior to the US World Cup.

Instantaneously, unwittingly and all at once, it is one of most glorious and utterly horrific football songs to have assaulted the senses. And that is saying something. Give it a watch below if you are game enough. Germany were defending the World Cup they had won at Italia '90. As you can imagine, the squad was littered with some rich household names up front.

And they enjoyed the soft rock vibe of the squad's official song, a sort of tune that would only have been bettered if David Hasselhoff had clamped himself to the project. It would be worth bringing it back two decades on for their return to the Americas.

The only problem being they would struggle to find a leading striker to play the role of Juergen Klinsmann, now the coach of the USA, who appeared to keenly enjoy clapping his hands and singing along with the Village People just a little bit too much while caged within a pair of action slacks.

Under their Euro 2006-winning coach Berti Vogts, Germany officially headed for the USA in '94 with five forwards in their 22-man squad. Karl-Heinz Riedle, Rudi Voller, Ulf Kirsten and Stefan Kuntz were the other four.


Officially, Germany have a solitary striker in the form of Mirsoslav Klose in their 23-man squad this time. You could make a case for Lukas Podolski being a forward, but he is usually found playing wide on the left for Arsenal in the Premier League. So there we have it. Germany have one out-and-out centre-forward, and he did not take part in the 4-0 disassembling of Portugal in the opening Group G match because he was not needed.

Klose is one goal short of the Brazil forward Ronaldo’s all-time record of 15 goals at the finals. He has 69 from 132 representing Germany, but Mueller is suddenly boasting eight goals from his seven appearances at the tournament.

Why do you need an out-and-out forward when your main attacking midfielder, or midfielders, can supply enough delights to fulfil expectations?

Mueller is probably what you would call a false number nine, but the hat-trick he ran in against the Portuguese was hardly false. A penalty, a composed finish and a scruffy tap-in from a few yards out was how Mueller compiled his three against Paulo Bento's tinpot Portuguese defence.


It was a poacher's dream, but it was a striker's treble. Mueller is a forward in everything but name. The beauty of Mueller and his rangy runs, leaving out his ridiculous tête-à-tête with Pepe, is that he can also drop deeper to enable Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Mario Goetze to spread the workload when needed. A couple can sit and occupy space when others burst forward.

The beauty of it all, is that Mueller knows two of those men from duty with Bayern Munich. He knows Ozil and Khedira from years of representing Die Mannschaft.

In many ways, Germany resemble a club side. Operating more with a 4-3-3 than the traditional 4-2-3-1 seen under Loew, they play like a club side each knowing what each is other is doing; Philipp Lahm is operating more like a holding midfielder after his switch from full-back to the position with Munich, and men who were toiling in fits and starts with Bayern in the death throes of the club season crucially appear to be running back into form at just the right time.

Loew has placed the emphasis firmly on ensuring his side do not concede space on the counter attack with full-backs Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Hoewedes less gung-ho in their need to bomb forwards. They can focus on defending when you have two from four midfielders able to support Mueller as the natural pivot.

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Head coach Joachim Loew of Germany shakes hands with Thomas Mueller as he exits the game after scoring a hat trick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova on June 16, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.

Germany have always been a tournament team. And they usually are a good place to start when picking sides who will win the thing because they are well prepared. The planning seems to be meticulous this time. Portugal had little answer to breaking them down even before Pepe was sent off.

Three World Cups to their name tells you why, but since losing the 2002 final to Brazil in Japan and South Korea, Germany have twice finished third while reaching the final of Euro 2008 and semi-final of Euro 2012.

This tends to be their time. Can they become the first European side to carry off the World Cup far away in South America? Well, they have a better chance than world champions Spain.

You would not have said that less than a week ago. This World Cup is full of surprises, but Germany's ongoing competence is hardly one of them.

Desmond Kane

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