Lehmann leaves Loew in goalkeeping dilemma

December 11, 2007

Jens Lehmann

Here’s a paradox for you: Germany have what may be the best crop of goalkeepers in world football, yet finding one to play at Euro 2008 is getting harder and harder for Joachim Loew.
In a blog about Iker Casillas last month, one of our commentators wrote: “The best goalkeepers in the world are German goalkeepers. They have, I would say, ten now who would walk into the English team.”
I took up that challenge and named 10 German keepers I thought would be good enough to play in the Premier League:
1. Robert Enke (Hanover 96)
2. Rene Adler (Bayer Leverkusen)
3. Manuel Neuer (Schalke)
4. Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich)
5. Michael Rensing (Bayern Munich, Germany U-21)
6. Jens Lehmann (Arsenal, for now)
7. Frank Rost (Hamburg)
8. Timo Hildebrand (Valencia)
9. Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund)
10. Raphael Schaefer (Stuttgart)
You could argue over some of them, certainly, but there are others you could also include, and the general standard in the Bundesliga is excellent. So what’s the problem for Loew?
Let’s start with Germany’s three goalkeepers from the last World Cup: Lehmann, Kahn and Hildebrand. Kahn has now retired from international football, while neither Lehmann nor Hildebrand can get a game at Arsenal or Valencia.
Loew said this week he would have to sit down and chat with Lehmann to see if he could find a solution (and by that he may well mean persuade his number one to move from Arsenal to another club). “It’s obviously important to have regular match practice and stay in rhythm,” Loew said.
The third choice at the moment is Enke but he has just one international appearance to his name at the age of 30 and in that game against Denmark he looked a bag of nerves.
Germany have two more matches before Euro 2008 — friendlies away to Switzerland and Austria — and Loew has a lot of thinking to do. Does he stick with Lehmann, even if he doesn’t play another club game between now and the final tournament? Or does he go for Enke or someone else as the “in-form” option?
If the latter, how about Gerhard Tremmel, a player who didn’t even make the above list?
Tremmel played so well for Energie Cottbus when they held Hamburg to a goalless draw at the weekend that the headline in the Frankfurter Rundschau called him “The man with the thousand hands”. 
He deserves a chance for the nickname alone, I reckon.

Kevin Fylan, Berlin  

PHOTO: Germany’s Lehmann stretches during a practice session in Frankfurt, Nov 20 REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach


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I’d swap Weidenfeller for Wiese, otherwise I agree with the list.

I would suggest Rost, Wiese and Schäfer get themselves English passports, as they probably only have a very small chance to ever play for Germany. I’d suggest Capello picks Frank Rost and let Wiese and Schäfer put pressure on him. Once they retire the English FA should keep one as their goalkeeping coach, while letting the other two act as mentor for talented young English goalkeepers (as is e.g. the case with Neuer (Oliver Reck), Adler (Rüdiger Vollborn) and Rensing (Sepp Maier)).

I’d keep Lehmann and Kahn for entertainment value only. The others should then duke it out for Germany’s #1.

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

If i were Loew, i’d pick Adler (only 11 goals beat me in Bundesliga), then Kahn and last, Tim Wiese, why you didnt brought him, anyway ?

Despite of many goals that stuck on Bremen’s net, u shouldnt blame on Tim, since the way of play in Bremen is full offensive and it effected for the strategy and characteristics of all players (specially for defenders)

Posted by Andy Gultom | Report as abusive

I think this will get easier come January. There is no way Lehmann is going to stay at Arsenal 2nd string to Almunia. There are always teams who could use a better goalie, and he is better than most. It would be foolish to develop a goalie with little intl with the Euro Cup less than a year away.


Posted by wrc | Report as abusive

Lehmann was very impressive against Ireland, the last match that meant anything. I’d have thought that would have ended all the discussions. Hildebrand has rarely looked impressive in the few international matches he’s had. Neuer is turning out to be a flash in the pan. Tremmel has always been underrated. Good to see some people are starting to notice him now. Sorry Jan – Weidenfeller has been awful this year. He’s lucky he’s still playing for Dortmund.

Posted by erik | Report as abusive

Erik, I think Jan was saying the same as you, that Weidenfeller SHOULDN’T be there. It’s probably a fair point, as he’s been hot and cold this year. His understudy Ziegler looked good when he came in for a few games. Yet another good German keeper!

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Andy, it’s a funny thing about Wiese — whenever I see him play he’s pretty awful. And can he be forgiven for this? http://football.guardian.co.uk/champions league200506/story/0,,1726098,00.html???

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I agree with Jan: bring Kahn back to join Lehmann in the squad just for laughs. Give the number one job to Enke or someone else. And, yeah, how hard can it be for some of these guys to get English passports?

Posted by London | Report as abusive

Firstly – I wholeheartedly disagree with the claim that Germany have the greatest goalkeeping depth in world football. I can think of 10 Brazilians and 10 Argentinians who are better.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Doni, Rogerio Ceni, Helton, Gomes, Dida, Marcos, Fernando Henrique, Ronaldinho with some gloves, Gisele Bundchen.

Argentina: Abbondanzieri, Ustari, Carrizo, etc

Posted by Gambling Dog | Report as abusive

I agree about Gisele Bundchen, not so much about the others.

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

Funnily enough,Gisele could qualify to play for germany (according to wikipedia anyway)

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Lehmann is a magnificent keeper but he is also stark raving mad.
He is more athletic than other top keepers, confident when facing penalties, excellent at taking crosses and stopping low snap shots. On the downside he takes himself too seriously, play acts, picks fights, doesn’t admit he has made a mistake even after the most costly error and has a destabilizing effect on his own defenders.
I imagine people in Germany laugh out loud when he does crazy things in English matches. He has no sense of shame or humility. I heard another German player describe him as funny and intelligent.
Are all German keepers as funny and intelligent as Jens?

Posted by Sid | Report as abusive

Oliver Kahn: check
Tim Wiese: check
Frank Rost: check

Timo Hildebrand: might get there unfortunately.
Robert Enke: all around cool bloke.

Manuel Neuer: too young. hopefully not.
Rene Adler: too young. hopefully not.
Michael Rensing. too young. but potentially, because he might become bitter over being third choice, while Adler and Neuer get all the fame and girls.

The other keepers: not important enough.

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

You’re right that those keepers could have, or may well in future, make the grade in the EPL, however, the point is the English National side. Most of them would be in the mix with a British passport. Just consider how many actual English keepers play EPl each week anymore – the Bundesliga is a totally different story – most keepers are German, which makes things easier for national coaches.

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