The most contentious debate over the Germany squad right now concerns the position of striker. And although there are some excellent centre-forwards available to Joachim Low, the trainer's most likely decision is to use a "false nine."
If he were fit and capable of inspiring confidence, Miroslav Klose would be a shoe-in for the spot. However, the veteran will turn 36 before the tournament begins and his physical decline simply cannot be ignored. He no longer has the explosiveness or pace to compete at the very highest level, especially in a system that requires high pressing from the forwards such as that which Low uses.
From here, Klose can only go downhill. He will probably make the squad and could play a key role as an impact substitute. However, expect him to play 15-30 minutes per game, not 75-90.
Mario Gomez is another option, but one that does not fit well in the context of the national team. Although he scored as many goals (3) in the group stage of Euro 2012 as any player in the tournament overall, Low did not hesitate to bench the Bayern man in the knockout rounds.
The fact is, Gomez was unable to act as Klose had in the past, opening up space for the attacking midfielders behind him. Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller struggled uncharacteristically, and Lukas Podolski was generally anonymous.
Gomez was unable to convince Low after scoring 41 goals for Bayern last season. Especially with his Bayern future still cloudy, it's hard to see him having a realistic chance of becoming Low's favored option.
Stefan Kiessling is another formidable forward available to Low, but the Leverkusen man has failed to take his chances at the highest level and the trainer dropped a big hint last Thursday that he does not see a future for Kiessling in his team.
"He has his qualities, he has shown he can score but it is also a matter of philosophy," Low said. "I have been thinking about it a lot, about dangerous players who can switch positions. If they play with variety you don't have to have a centre-forward."
Low has experimented with Mario Gotze as a false striker in the past, and in all likelihood will continue to use the Dortmund man in a similar role. Gotze has been in tremendous form at club level, scoring 14 goals and giving 17 assists in 38 appearances this season. He's incredibly adaptable and has long been one of Low's favorites, having made his senior international debut at the age of 18.
Gotze has gotten better and better as the season has progressed, and still at just 20 years of age has even more potential to be tapped. There's a very real possibility that he may be one of Europe's very best players by the time of the World Cup; it will be impossible to leave him out of the squad.
Likewise, it's impossible for Low to omit a player like Ozil, around whom he's built his attack ever since late 2009. Muller is a lock on the right wing if not for any other reason than that he serves the purpose of a good luck charm; Germany are nearly unbeatable when he plays. And on the left, Reus is perhaps the most striker-like of the front four while having other qualities that make him a dynamic attacker.
Expect a dynamic front four from Germany at the World Cup. It will take time for the team to develop the right chemistry and make it work, but when it does, it will be Low's best XI playing what can only be expected to be beautiful, free-flowing and unpredictable football.
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