Lehmann leaves Loew in goalkeeping dilemma
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