5 Things We Learned from Germany's Win Against Armenia
Germany concluded their final test match before taking off to the World Cup in Brazil in dominant fashion, beating Armenia 6-1 in Mainz.
A subdued first half gave way to a late flurry of goals in the second with Germany scoring five goals in the final 18 minutes of the match.
There were no shortage of talking points in this game. It was coach Joachim Low's final chance to see the team before they fly to Brazil on Saturday, and it was also a landmark game for Miroslav Klose who became Germany's all-time record goalscorer with his goal.
The biggest talking point, however, was the injury to Marco Reus who may just miss out on the World Cup due to an ankle injury picked up in the game.
Overall the game gave Low much to think about heading to Brazil, including not only thinking of a potential replacement for Reus but also making some key personnel decisions ahead of their game against Portugal in a little over a week.
Let's look at the most notable takeaways from Germany's final test before Brazil.
Right-Back Spot Decided?
Two times Low had the chance to start Kevin Grosskreutz at right-back and two times he preferred Jerome Boateng.
It is safe to say that the Bayern Munich defender will most likely be Germany's starter on the right this summer in Brazil.
While most suspected Grosskreutz, or even Philipp Lahm, to be playing there it looks as though Boateng has won out in the end.
Perhaps it is a case of Low wanting his three best defenders (Boateng, Hummels and Mertesacker) on the same field together. Or maybe Boateng's inclusion on the right is meant to be a stabilizing force in what has been a shaky back line.
Either way, Boateng showed that he is not out of place in that position. He was one of Germany's most consistent players in their two friendlies. And even though he was to blame for Cameroon's second goal, Boateng also did well there at the European Championships two years ago.
Lahm Belongs in Midfield
Sometimes it's a curse to be able to play so many different positions, especially when one plays all of them so well. In Lahm's case he has been shuttled around from left-back to right-back and most recently to central midfield.
But if anyone's watched Lahm play this season they'd know that he really belongs in midfield. Lahm was imperious for Bayern Munich in midfield this season and can play a similarly influential role for Germany this summer in Brazil.
The captain provides an invaluable presence and sense of security in midfield, one that makes Germany more confident in possession and provides the back line with a more assured safety net.
Simply put, with Lahm pulling the strings in midfield, the team is more potent offensively and defensively. Lahm's intelligence rubs off and improves others' decision making. Players know they can rely on him, and Lahm's ability to cover so much ground so quickly also gives others license to be more proactive and attack.
If Germany are to have any kind of success in Brazil it will be with Lahm dictating play from the middle. His international future very much lies at the heart of all the action.
Marco Reus Absence Could Be a Big Blow
As if Germany weren't unlucky enough. First Ilkay Gundogan, then Mario Gomez followed by Lars Bender. The injury list goes on and on and Marco Reus may join it after limping off with an ankle injury in the first half against Armenia.
Reus came into this squad as arguably the most in-form player on the team. The 25-year-old Borussia Dortmund attacker enjoyed his best season, scoring 23 goals and assisting another 23 in all competitions.
He was also set to be Germany's first choice on the left wing in Brazil and added a real dynamism and creativity that they have been lacking recently.
After making a few brief appearances at the European Championships two years ago, Brazil was the platform for Reus to truly break out on the international stage.
Although Lukas Podolski had a great showing in both friendlies this week, Reus has been a difference-maker against bigger teams this season, something Podolski has often been criticized for.
If he does miss out, Germany could very well have lost its biggest asset.
Podolski's Big Chance to Shine
If Reus is indeed ruled out, the stage is set for Lukas Podolski to rediscover his form and make the impact he had when he first came into the team.
It is hard to believe, but it has been 10 years since Podolski first made his senior debut for Germany. In that time he has scored 47 goals in 114 matches but most recently fell out of favor and lost his starting spot.
But if anyone showed a great determination to win that spot back it was Podolski in Germany's friendlies this week. Podolski was the difference-maker against Cameroon when he came on and again had an immediate impact against Armenia.
Podolski came on for Reus, scored a goal and set up three others in quick succession. His direct, shot-first style was exactly what Germany were lacking and threw Armenia's defense into disarray.
Whether Podolski has this spot locked down remains to be seen but his form during preparation certainly makes him the frontrunner.
Podolski is ready to once again be a centerpiece of the German national team.
Klose Can Still Get the Job Done
So many questions surround Germany ahead of this World Cup, in particular the role Miroslav Klose will play at the age of 36.
There are many who think he shouldn't even be on the roster considering his age, his bout with injury over the last couple of years and the notable drop in pace and form.
But one thing has remained consistent in spite of his age; his ability to continuously prove his detractors wrong and put the ball in the back of the net.
It took Klose less than 10 minutes to score against Armenia after being brought on. Not only did that goal make him Germany's all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record, but it showed his seasoned and unmatchable instinct for goal.
Klose will turn 36 on Monday but he is still as sharp as ever in the box. He knows how to move, he knows where the goal is and he will always find ways to score.
The tide is certainly changing and tactically Germany are indeed heading in a different direction, but Klose may still prove invaluable during this transition and to their campaign in Brazil this summer.
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