The current world champions have had strength in depth for decades, however, the one area of the side which has been lacking in talent is the furthest forward attacker. Although this hasn’t caused any great issues when it comes to scoring goals, leaving Joachim Low with a dilemma every time he picks a side.
In this World Cup Qualifying campaign and adjoining friendlies, Low has rotated the role of striker between players either, well beyond their peak, or well beyond their natural role. These include the likes of Mario Gomez and namesake Gotze, and comedians Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski. None of these options are currently of corresponding calibre as the rest of the team, and debatably ever have been; at least in terms of playing the number nine role.
Thomas Muller’s goal-scoring record at major tournaments has saved potential blushes for the German national team in the past. The Miroslav Klose in his prime has never quite been replicated, highlighted by the fact he remained a starter long beyond his honeymoon period.
On Wednesday in the friendly against a physical English eleven, Timo Werner – the highest scoring German forward (in a top division) – was deployed in the number nine role. To say he struggled for a foothold would be an understatement, but at the age of just 21, there’s plenty more to come from the Leipzig man. The concern for Low is that beyond Werner, there are very few German central forwards hitting the target regularly. The highly rated Kevin Volland has struggled after moving to a mid-table Leverkusen, whilst potential replacement Marco Reus has seen more of the physio room than the dressing room.
An abundance of wide attacking talents and creative maestros continually allows Jogi to deploy players either out of form or position and the Germans still hit the back of the net without issue. The issue of fire power, or lack of it, can be cast aside whilst Die Mannschaft see off the likes of Azerbaijan and San Marino.
Everything in the past year and from now on will be preparing with the aim of winning a successive World Cup. With just over a year until the 2018 showpiece, there isn’t time nor the matches for Low and his staff to be experimenting with various strikers prior to facing the World’s best.
This leaves Jogi with limited choices for qualifying and the inevitable championship itself next year. Thomas Muller and Timo Werner are the most obvious quick-fixes but with Muller struggling under Ancelotti alternative system and Werner with a sole cap to his name, it’s a difficult decision for Low. Timo Werner brings raw pace and can run in behind defences, but is unproven on both a continental and international stage. Low could continue to play players out of position and go for a Reus (if fit), a Sane or even the in-form Julian Draxler. However, with all these exciting talents it still wouldn’t surprise me if good ol’ Mario Gomez, at the lean age of 40 (give or take a few), was still leading the line for Germany come 2018.