Just when it appeared that Joachim Loew and his young, talented German squad had found a winning formula despite being plagued by injuries leading up to the World Cup, more doubt encircles the German camp in South Africa.
The trio of midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, winger Mesut Oezil, and left back Jerome Boateng all face knocks that could hold them out of Germany's upcoming Round of 16 matchup against the nation's old foe, England.
Germany's new rock in the midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was seen receiving treatment on the sidelines for a thigh injury during the last 10 minutes of Germany's 1-0 win over Ghana. His loss is the most probable one for the Germans. A loss that would be tough to deal with, as Loew acknowledges.
Boateng has been dealing with back issues since his first start in the World Cup. Boateng's absence would be crucial. For one, he is a candidate to replace Schweinsteiger in a holding midfield role if the Bavarian midfielder cannot go, but more importantly, Loew may be forced to roll with a less experienced outside back in place of Boateng. Young Holger Badstuber debuted for the Germans in their first two games and did not impress.
Starting either Badstuber or someone else out wide could put Germany at serious risk against England's pacy wingers like Smokin' Joe Cole or Aaron Lennon.
On a note of less concern, young playmaker and attacking threat, Mesut Oezil, suffered an ankle roll late in the game as well. Loew does not seem as nervous about Oezil's injury, but given the fact that the two most important players in his young midfield are at risk, there's certainly cause for concern heading into the knockout stages.
It's a been a frustrating ride for Germany, despite their success. Their starting 11 against Australia seemed to mix exceptionally well.
Oezil has become the fulcrum of the German attack and Schweinsteiger has added a dogged determination on defense to his normally attack-focused skill set.
If Schweinsteiger is unable to go, look for Loew to call upon 20-year-old Toni Kroos to take the lead role in the middle and give Germany an even younger look. Loew has had luck thus far with thrusting youngsters into the starting 11, but it's doubtful he'll feel as confident with Kroos over Schweiny, especially in the knockout stage.
It's yet another obstacle for the new Germany to overcome, and we'll see if fitness and fate are on the side of Joachim Loew again when his squad takes on England on Sunday.
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