Germany, tipped as one of the “not-quite-a-favorite” yet “definitely-not-a-dark-horse” teams for Brazil 2014, are starting to slide down into “well, maybe they’ll make it past the Round of 16”.
Which is good news for fans of the U.S.A., but not so great for, say, Germany.
Joachim Löw, already dealing with a host of injuries plaguing his squad, confirmed today that Lars Bender won’t be making the trip to Brazil. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder picked up an injury in training and has been ruled out of the World Cup.
The 25-year-old is just the latest addition to Löw’s woes. Mario Gómez and İlkay Gündoğan were left off the 30-man preliminary roster after having their seasons shortened by injury. Sami Khedira missed the majority of Real Madrid’s season after tearing his ACL last year. Veteran Miroslav Klose, who could set a record for most appearances for Germany, has yet to train with the squad.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is nursing a knee injury, which kept him out of Bayern Munich’s 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in last weekend’s German Cup final. Dortmund defender Mats Hummels managed to play in the final, but is on medication for a foot injury, and missed quite a few matches this season with various knocks.
As if that weren’t enough, captain Philipp Lahm injured his ankle Bayern’s final match. Teammate Manuel Neuer, Germany’s first-choice goalkeeper, also picked up a knock, hurting his shoulder in the cup final. The two have yet to arrive at training, although it’s believed that both will be ready by the time matches start in Brazil.
Germany, who made it to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, are included in Group G. Their first round opponents are Portugal, Ghana and the United States – none of whom will be shedding tears over the knocks their strongest competitor has taken.