Football

Germany: Five Khedira alternatives

Sami Khedira is one of Germany's most important players (©GettyImages)
Sami Khedira is one of Germany's most important players (©GettyImages).

There is nothing worse than a major player getting a bad injury in a World Cup year, especially if the injury was sustained in an essentially meaningless friendly.

This exact scenario is what Germany coach Joachim Low is facing at the moment. The engine in Germany's midfield, Sami Khedira, was badly injured in the match against Italy on Friday and looks set to miss at least six months with a knee problem.

Ancelotti will also be worried that one of his most consistent performers at Real Madrid is ruled out for the season. Not only Khedira but also Xabi Alonso suffered an injury during the international break and the Italian coach will be wondering whether he has any midfielders left.

Luckily for Low though, he has more than capable alternatives - something Ancelotti can only dream of. Schweinsteiger and Khedira has been the midfield partnership ever since Ballack's international retirement in 2010 and the Bayern play-maker is undisputed first-choice in midfield. With Khedira's injury the question marks are lingering over who will sit alongside Schweinsteiger for the World Cup.

The five best options - in no particular order - are as follows:

Sven Bender

Sven Bender made his international debut in 2011 but did not make the squad for Euro 2012. He has six caps to his name now and is a consistent performer when called upon. He has achieved fantastic things with Borussia Dortmund after moving from 1860 Munchen in 2009.

He formed a fantastic partnership with Nuri Sahin and then Ilkay Gundogan. These partnerships became the basis for Dortmund's success in Germany and Europe in recent times. In Germany's midfield he would take over the defensive duties and let Schweinsteiger be slightly more offensive.

This is definitely Bender's strength as he shows very little ability in front of goal with no goals for Germany and only three in 136 games for Dortmund.

Lars Bender

Sven Bender's twin brother may not have won the Bundesliga or played in the Champions League final but he is a more complete player than Sven.

He ousted his brother in 2012 and made the European Championship squad. He boasts 16 caps and four goals including a last minute winner against Denmark in the final group game in Euro 2012. He is vice-captain at Bayer Leverkusen and is considered one of their best players.

He is a traditional box-to-box midfielder and has an eye for goal as well as being a good tackler and a tireless worker. On many occasions, Bender has shown his adaptability as he can play at right-back as well as anywhere across the midfield. He is expected to start ahead of his brother against England on Tuesday and his playing style most reflects that of the injured Sami Khedira.

Toni Kroos

Kroos has been in the German team since 2010 and has 40 caps to his name. He can play anywhere in midfield but prefers the attacking role just behind the striker which is usually taken up by Mesut Ozil.

However, he has shown his ability as a deep-lying playmaker and has played alongside Schweinsteiger many times before in the Bayern team. If they were to become the partnership for the World Cup it would mean Schweinsteiger taking over more defensive responsibilities and Kroos being allowed to roam and create.

This nullifies Schweinsteiger somewhat but may be used against teams that will sit back and defend at the edge of their box. Kroos could also move forward and create a 4-1-4-1 formation similar to that of Bayern and Schweinsteiger would be the sole defensive midfielder - a role he does not love but is willing to play and play well.

Ilkay Gundogan

Gundogan made his debut in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium and surprisingly made the squad for the tournament. He now has eight caps and will be looking to add to that in the coming months and years.

Considered one of the best deep-lying play-makers in Europe and an integral part of the Dortmund team, he would be playing a role similar to that of Schweinsteiger. This would prove difficult and means that Gundogan is unlikely to make the team.

His situation is similar to Kroos' situation as he would force Schweinsteiger to become a more defensive midfielder, as he is used to playing alongside either Sven Bender or Sebastian Kehl who are both willing to completely take over the defensive aspect of the midfield. Although a fantastic provider and more offensively tuned, he is an adept all round midfielder and would alter his game to get into the team if needs be.

Philipp Lahm

Although Lahm may be an unusual option as a Khedira-deputy, he showed on Friday that he is willing to play in midfield for Germany as well as Bayern.

Pep Guardiola has changed Lahm into a defensive midfielder and he is coping well - something credited to the Germany captain being one of the best all-rounders in the world. Low was willing to experiment with this against Italy but has said that Lahm remains a right-back in his mind. This also makes sense as Germany have many more capable alternatives in midfield than at right-back.

However, he cannot be dismissed as he is a capable alternative and would definitely do a job if called upon to play in midfield. Lahm would also allow Schweinsteiger to retain his current position as he would take over the defensive responsibilities.

Khedira's injury is bad news for Germany and Low will hope for his speedy recovery but he will be comforted by the thought of all the capable alternatives he has at his disposal. Any of the above mentioned players are fantastic footballers and would do a great job if called upon to partner Schweinsteiger at the World Cup.


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Topics:
World Cup
Football
Real Madrid
Internationals
Germany Football

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