Kiessling's Germany Omission Is Puzzling and Risky
Chances are Stefan Kiessling will play no part in the 2014 World Cup.
In a late-August interview the 29-year-old revealed he had as much interest in the tournament as in “damp cheese”—a strong admission given that he recently authored a self-published cook book.
But whether he’s cooking, writing about cooking or scoring goals—lots of goals—for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, Kiessling has enough on his plate to keep him busy without the distraction of international football.
After all, he wouldn’t be permitted into the Germany squad even if he wanted to be there.
Manager Joachim Low has stubbornly refused to call him up and in November 2012 opined that Kiessling was “behind” Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose on his depth chart.
“We have a philosophy,” he remarked according to Sports Illustrated's Raphael Honigstein, “and we [choose] the players accordingly.”
It’s a philosophy that could all of a sudden find Germany in some trouble if goals turn out to be hard to come by in Brazil in nine months’ time.
Yes, Gomez and Klose have a combined 93 international goals between them, and yes, Germany rely on their playmakers behind the striker for a good deal of production. But to omit a goal scorer of Kiessling’s ability seems an unnecessary risk given the stakes, particularly when Gomez’ on-again, off-again form for his country and Klose’s age (he’ll turn 36 before the World Cup) are taken into account.
Kiessling, as statistics show, led the Bundesliga with 25 goals last season, while contributing seven assists as Leverkusen finished third in the table. Nearly two-thirds of his shots were placed on target (an impressive rate of accuracy) and he picked up only a single booking in 34 matches despite a willingness to take on defenders in aerial duels. (Statistics courtesy Squawka.com.)
A tall, athletic striker with at least 16 league goals in three of his last four seasons, he is also a useful player on the defensive side of the ball—an attribute that should presumably ingratiate himself with Low.
Stefan Kiessling, top Bundesliga goalscorer last season, refuses to play for Germany while Jogi Loew is coach. Quotes @BILD_Sport today.— Alex Stone (@AlexStone7) August 26, 2013
But he hasn’t represented his country since the fourth-place match at the 2010 World Cup and, according to a recent interview with Bild, has put international football out his mind for as long as Low remains in charge.
“There will be no more Germany international Stefan Kiessling under Low,” he said, adding on Facebook that he intended to “bring this issue to an end” (via ESPNFC).
“Every goal is followed by questions about my [Germany] comeback,” he wrote. “It just annoys me. No longer.”
He can hardly be faulted for taking the position, although his country could find themselves in a spot of bother should Klose go down injured or Gomez go through another dry spell. Low, it would seem, is taking the risky approach to his squad selection as it certainly wouldn’t have done his squad depth any harm to include Kiessling.
Which is why it’s up to Low to mend the fence. If he comes to his senses between now and the spring it will fall to him, and only him, to rebuild a relationship he has neglected for too long.
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