Germany’s World Cup parade
Germany’s World Cup parade
Leave it to Podolski to provide some comic relief. (Getty Images)
The German national team is gearing up for the World Cup in Italy, but there hasn’t been much to smile about so far.
In addition to the long list of injured first-team players that still haven’t been able to join practice, Joachim Low & Co. have had to deal with the fallout from Kevin Grosskreutz’s drunken stupor after the German Cup final. (And if you don’t know what we’re talking about, read this.)
With this cloud of negativity hanging over the German camp, you just knew it was only a matter of time before Lukas Podolski did something silly to lighten the mood.
And sure enough, the team’s resident prankster did just that at the end of Germany’s media day on Sunday, throwing one esteemed reporter into the team resort’s pool: Poor guy! Let’s just hope his cell phone wasn’t in his pants.
Wayne Rooney will lead Roy Hodgson’s side in attack on Tuesday night (Images: Reuters).
The classic rivalry between England and Germany will write another chapter Tuesday night at Wembley Stadium (live, FOX Sports 1, 3 p.m. ET), so let’s run down a few things to know:
1. Twice as nice: Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge will be paired together up top, with Rooney playing in the No. 10 role. This is great news for England, who need Rooney to be in top form and utilized in his best position in order to make a run at the top teams. You can read more about what this means for England in Patrick Barclay’s match preview.
2. Taking it easy: You’ll notice that while the Three Lions are fielding their best XI, more or less, the Germans will miss a lot of key players. Captain Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer have been left behind in Germany to rest for Bayern Munich’s upcoming clash at Borussia Dortmund, while Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil will be rested as well. Also absent are injured playmakers Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ilkay Gundogan and Sami Khedira, as well as strikers Miro Klose and Mario Gomez. Joachim Low will have to give his side a new look, including Lars and Sven Bender in holding midfield.
With his team hampered by injuries, Low will be forced to experiment vs. England (Images: Reuters).
3. Players to watch: Don’t feel bad for Germany, they still have plenty of weapons. Watch Marco Reus and Mario Gotze closely today; the two wingers are competing with Ozil and Thomas Muller for starting spots next summer. The same thing goes for Max Kruse, who starts as the lone striker today. On the other side, keep an eye on Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend. Still new to the national side, they, too, need to present themselves to the manager.
4. History lesson: The old rivalry has been a story of two eras. From their first meeting in 1908 through the legendary 1966 World Cup final, England completely dominated Germany (10W-2D-0L). It’s been a different story since then; Germany is 13-2-5 against England after ‘66. However, the Three Lions won the last meeting, 2-1, in November 2008 in Berlin.
Mit der Tube nach Wembley. pic.twitter.com/eujQBn6heO— DFB-Team (@DFB_Team)
5. Going tubing: Yesterday, the German national team took the Tube to Wembley Stadium for their final practice. This would be unfathomable if not for the well-known fact that getting to Wembley any other way actually takes ten times as long. This just speaks to Joachim Low’s thorough preparation. A video of the team’s unique transport is below:
Tuesday’s Champions League action saw two fantastic golazos scored off the boots of German internationals: Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Schalke’s Julian Draxler. Both goals gave their teams the lead, and both were two perfectly struck one-timers.
So the question is, who wore it better?
Side by side
Michael Ballack drew 45,000 fans and some of the soccer world’s biggest stars (past and present) for his ceremonial retirement match in Leipzig on Wednesday.
Ballack, Germany’s national team captain for many years including during the 2006 World Cup, scored a hat-trick in the match, which featured high-profile coaches, former teammates and opponents.
Team “Ballack & Friends” consisted of German stars such as Miroslav Klose, Ulf Kirsten, Philipp Lahm and even Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, while the “World XI” consisted of legends such as Lothar Mattheus, Pavel Nedved, and Ballack’s former Chelsea teammates Didier Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko.
The coaches? Oh, just his former bosses Jose Mourinho and Rudi Voller.
With all those stars under one roof, it was Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, of all people, who laid down the move of the night, dispossessing Drobga with this luscious spin move! What!?