Germany take on Cameroon this Sunday in a glamour friendly at Berlin's Olympic stadium, which could prove to be the final test match for Joachim Loew's side before they head off to this summer's World Cup.
Die Mannschaft have had an unfortunate build up to the competition with a long-term injury to central midfielder Lars Bender ruling him out of the competition entirely, while Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm still struggle to recover from their own physical troubles.
The poor fitness of the Bayern Munich pair will force Loew to rejig his entire squad ahead of the game against fellow German coach Volker Finke, which means we could see a few changes in personnel and the overall tactics of his side.
A makeshift defence and midfield
With the likes of Neuer and Lahm missing from this weekend's tie against Cameroon through injury, Loew is likely to start Dortmund's young starlet Erik Durm in the left-back position. While Gladbach's own prospect, defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer, may start in central midfield if Sami Khedira is not deemed fit enough to play the entire 90 minutes.
We've seen Kramer in the fully-capped Die Mannschaft colours before, when Germany played Poland in May to a disappointing 0-0 draw, yet it would seem that Loew is now considering using the 23-year-old in this summer's tournament following the injury to Bayer Leverkusen's Bender.
In the image above we can see the basic layout of Loew's 4-2-3-1 formation. In quite a conventional manner, Germany tend to play with two holding midfielders to protect the back-line, while both full-backs push forward and join in the attack.
As such, we should see the very best of Durm against Cameroon if he is given time and space to exploit the opponent's half. While Kramer should quite easily slot into the current central midfield system alongside a more attack-minded midfielder, such as Toni Kroos.
We can see from the poorly-drawn additions to the image that Kramer and his midfield partner will tend to sit deep and look to create plays from the halfway line. In this match Poland chose to sit deep, which in turn allowed Sebastian Rudy and the Gladbach midfielder plenty of time and space on the ball.
Cameroon are unlikely to follow a similar method and should look to close down and hassle Germany's midfield whenever they can. As such we should look forward to a challenging test for the fledgling international.
Who will lead the attack?
One of Loew's most notable successes as Germany coach has been the somewhat modernization of the team in terms of how it plays football. From a country that once proudly played hard and fast football, with physicality often being prioritised over individual skill, this German side are now a team who can pass the ball as well as any other.
This is noteworthy because it's exactly what Loew will have in mind as he tries to mould an effective attacking force from a number of contrasting players.
The outside bet is that we'll see Bayern's Mario Goetze take the role of lone striker and effectively play as a false nine, with the likes of Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle playing off him from either wing.
As the video above showcases—Goetze's goal against Chile in a recent international friendly—Germany can play intricate football and pass their way through most defences, when the small attacking midfield leads the line. Yet whether Loew sees this as a genuine threat to better sides is still unknown.
The other more probable option is that the bundestrainer will in fact stick with the more conventional method of scoring, by sticking Lazio striker Miroslav Klose up front as the traditional striker. Yet this in itself poses a number of problems, too.
The Polish-born striker has had a number of injuries this season and may not be entirely match fit. Partner that with seven goals in 25 games for the Serie A side—his worst record since joining Lazio—and you have a star player who could prove incredibly unreliable.
Yet Loew, and many others, would argue that despite the risks it would be simply mad to not bring Klose to a World Cup. With 14 goals in 19 tournament appearances he is just two away from the all time record.
Tactically the striker also provides an incredibly specific attribute as well— an out ball.
A penalty-box target man is what Klose's game is all about and as we can see from this shot of Germany's game against Ecuador, during the 2006 World Cup, the striker's main priority is to always play off the last man and run toward goal.
This style of play varies almost entirely from Goetze's and has done Loew and Germany well in the past. Which makes this final test against Cameroon on Sunday all the more interesting; will the manager stick with his tried and tested method or will he take a new approach to a very old problem.
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