Hot pre-tournament World Cup favourites Germany are having a few worries over their star-studded midfield as the injuries begin to take a toll.
Joachim Low has seen two of his top choices in midfield suffer from serious injuries, with one of his maestros already ruled out of the showpiece this summer in Brazil.
Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund suffered a back injury last August in a friendly against Paraguay and has not featured since. He was expected to be out for just a few weeks but that has become months until finally Jurgen Klopp admitted that his star midfielder will miss the World Cup.
Low has seen his ace midfielder - Bastian Schweinsteiger - suffer with an ankle problem but he is now back playing for Bayern Munich. Sami Khedira, meanwhile, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last November in a match against Italy. He is recovering well and expected to be fit for Brazil.
Should Khedira make it, he will surely be fresh and hungry to play again but one has to wonder how sharp and match fit will he be, especially going up against the likes of Portugal and Ghana in the group stages.
Low has several options in midfield, most notably Lars and Sven Bender. He can also play captain Philipp Lahm in midfield alongside Schweinsteiger like Pep Guardiola has done or he could drop Toni Kroos deep. There is also the option of selecting a wild card like new Bayern signing Sebastian Rode or Roman Neustadter of Schalke.
Whatever Low decides to do, will be analysed closely but there is no doubt Gundogan will be missed. His athleticism, work rate, technical ability, touch and vision are unique which makes him a special player that cannot be replaced.
Low has replacements but with the experience and quality that may be missing, the Germans could yet again fail to deliver success despite the strength in depth in their squad.
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