Germany’s continuing midfield mayhem

May 26, 2010

SOCCER-WORLD/GERMANY-BALLACKWhen Germany captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of the World Cup following a scan on his ankle last week there was no doubt this was a major setback for the three-times champions. By far the most experienced player, Ballack was the team’s leader having taken Germany to World Cup and Euro finals. The loss of midfielder Christian Traesch, only days after Ballack’s injury, could prove an even heavier blow.

Traesch injured his ankle in a friendly match against South Tirol this week and will be out for six weeks. Traesch was seen as someone who could take over the bulk of Ballack’s midfield duties. But with both of them out coach Joachim Loew has got to seriously reshuffle his squad to strike the right balance in defence and midfield without compromising either.

Assistant coach Hansi Flick suggested that Dennis Aogo and Heiko Westermann could slip into that role, playing down concerns of what the Traesch injury could mean. But Aogo, who is versatile enough and can play in central midfield, is more comfortable at left-back. Westermann on the other hand would ideally play in central defence alongside Per Mertesacker. Dragging Westermann into midfield , Loew would also reduce his defensive options at a time when Mertesacker is short of his best form and speedy Ghanaian attackers or strong Serbian and Australian forwards are lying in wait.

Moving defender Philipp Lahm into that role would also mean taking one of the world’s most consistent full-backs (he can play either side with great ease) out of their natural habitant.

Apart from the starting keeper position and who will replace Ballack as captain of the team, Loew must also solve a midfield conundrum that was just made a lot harder.

PHOTO: German national soccer player Michael Ballack and assistant coaches watch a training session at Hotel Rocco Forte Verdura near the Sicilian town of Sciacca, southern Italy, May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Markus Gilliar/Pool

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