On Tuesday the German national team announced they have a new captain.
After winning the World Cup in Brazil this summer, Philipp Lahm retired from international soccer and a replacement was needed for the Bayern Munich legend.
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Turns out, one of his club teammates was the perfect fit. Welcome, captain Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The 30-year-old midfielder was the obvious candidate for the job, as Joachim Low has appointed the veteran midfielder as his new skipper prior to Germany’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign beginning this weekend against Scotland.
Schweinsteiger has played 108 times for Germany since making his debut in 2004 and battled away in the engine room as Germany roared to success in South America this summer. Here’s what Low had to say about his new skipper.
“Schweinsteiger has always taken on responsibility when he had to. I could always rely on him,” Low said. “He is very well respected in the team and among the coaching staff. His immense experience is also important. We have developed a trusting relationship over many, many years.”
With Lahm stepping away from the international game at the age of 30, Schweinsteiger is the same age but has no such plans. He will lead Germany towards the 2016 European Championships in France as their most experienced squad member.
Over the summer Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose all retired from Die Mannschaft as a new era will be ushered in by Low. The German national team have so many talented youngsters such as Julian Draxler, Marco Reus, Matthias Ginter, Sebastian Rudy and Christoph Kramer among others. Now is there chance to shine.
The World champions may well be ringing the changes but some things never change. Like he has done for over a decade, Schweinsteiger will lead the charge. Now he has the armband to prove it.
Arsenal center-back and German national team veteran Per Mertesacker has decided to leave international duty for good, and at the young age of 29, no less.
Mertesacker made 104 appearances and scored four goals for Germany. His international debut came in 2004 against Iran when he was just 20 years old. But he left the national team happy, following their World Cup victory in Brazil, a joyous occasion for him and all of Germany.
His comfortability to retire also has to do with the fact that German football has loads of young talent to carry on his country’s success.
“Winning the World Cup was the best possible end to 10 years in the national team. I’ve moved aside to let younger players take over. We don’t have to fret about the future, we are better equipped than every before. I’m happy that I’ve been able to play for so long, happy that people have trusted in me,” said Mertesacker.
He now aspires to use his winning triumphs at his club team, Arsenal, which will seek to improve the positives from last year.
“I’m still hungry for more titles, but I want to win them with Arsenal – to win the league, perhaps have a go at the Champions League.
“You could see the potential was there, at times. We were top until Christmas. It was there for the taking for a long time. But in the big away games we were too naive, we also couldn’t compensate the injured players. But I have a feeling that we will achieve a lot more. The manager constantly pushes us in the right direction with his experience and calmness.”
The leading scorer in World Cup history has hung up his boots. For Germany, anyway.
Miroslav Klose, 36, has called it quits on one of the greatest international careers in history as the German forward has retired from playing for his nation. Klose broke the World Cup scoring record this summer as he has scored 16 goals across four tournaments for Die Mannschaft. Remarkable.
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The Polish born forward has been a predator for almost two decades but after Germany’s first World Cup trophy since 1990, he felt it was the perfect time to retire.
“The title in Brazil fulfilled a childhood dream of mine,” Klose said. “I am proud and happy that I could contribute to this great success for German football. There is no better time to close the national team chapter.”
In the history books, Klose’s name will always live on after he broke Ronaldo’s record and became the World Cups all-time leading goalscorer by scoring twice in Brazil. He also broke Gerd Muller’s record as Germany’s all-time leading scorer and amassed 71 goals in 137 appearances. Klose is also the only player to play in four or more World Cup semifinals, the third player in history to score in four separate World Cup tournaments and is the only player in history to be part of 17 wins at the World Cup.
The word legend gets used loosely in soccer. This man deserves that title.
Although Klose will not play for Germany again, he can now concentrate solely on his club team, Lazio, as the German striker will carry on playing in Serie A during the upcoming season. He has scored 40 goals in 100 games for the Rome club so far and will be aiming to score more, as always, in 2014-15. The former Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich striker has scored 205 goals in 524 appearances at club level.
For compiling one of the greatest international careers soccer has ever seen, take a bow, Miroslav.
Get ready for a dynasty.
On Wednesday German national team coach Joachim Low announced he will stay on as manager until at least the end of the 2016 European Championships in France.
Low, 54, led Germany to their first World Cup since 1990 this summer and their fourth in history, as Die Mannschaft beat Argentina 1-0 in the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Since then speculation has been rife that Low would step down as boss, despite extending his deal before the World Cup.
However those reports are wide of the mark as Jurgen Klinsmann’s former assistant manager will carry on the superb work both men started back in 2004.
Now that Low has confirmed his future, he can continue his stellar work after turning Germany into one of the best sides the world has ever seen. Low said the following to the German Football Federation (DFB) on their website about his intentions to stay on as coach.
“At the moment, I can imagine nothing more beautiful than to continue working with this team, to guide it to the European Championship in France, to develop the team and the individual players further,” Low said. “I am as motivated as I was on the first day with DFB. We celebrated a gigantic success in Brazil but there are other goals that we want to achieve. The World Cup 2014 was a highlight for all, but it was not a conclusion.”
Can Germany and Low replicate the success that the Spanish national team (World Champions in 2010, European Champions in ’08 and ’12) have enjoyed over the past decade? Absolutely.
If anything, Germany’s success seems to be more sustainable compared to Spain’s sudden surge of top class talent all coming through at the same time. The depth Germany possesses is incredible and how Low has knitted together players from different generations such as Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller is sublime.
With a strong core set to stick around until at least the 2016 Euro’s, Low has a chance of creating one of the best national teams ever seen.
No surprise he’s sticking around then.
German World Cup winner Toni Kroos is expected to officially be unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Thursday, as the central midfielder is set to sign for the reigning European Champions.
Following Germany’s 1-0 World Cup final win over Argentina on Sunday, Kroos reportedly confirmed to Brazilian news outlet UOL that he’s heading to the Spanish capital to play for Real after spending his entire career at Bayern Munich.
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Kroos has long been chased by Manchester United in the Premier League, and plenty of Europe’s biggest clubs, but it looks a certainty that he is set to sign for Carlo Ancelotti at the Santiago Bernabeu. Kroos is said to have agreed a five-year at Real and his $30 million transfer will be confirmed in the next 48 hours.
The 24-year-old is certainly looking forward to his Spanish switch.
“We’ve finished the World Cup in the best way possible. Now I’m going to Madrid, so that’s two dreams achieved,” Kroos said.
How have Real picked up one of the best midfielders at the World Cup for just $30 million? Kroos only has one year left on his current Bayern deal and the Bavarian giants wanted to try and cash in on his talents instead of potentially losing him for nothing at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Real are getting one of the finest midfielders of a generation. The way Kroos caresses the ball with pace and precision from right to left, the fact that always seems to be available and isn’t afraid to shoot (his two goals in the World Cup semifinal proved that) will turn him into a fans favorite. Playing in a box-to-box role or supporting a lone striker, Kroos’ vision and ability to keep the ball will help Real get their attacks going.
Kroos is likely to line up in central midfield as the more attacking player in front of a holder such as Xabi Alonso or Sami Khedira, and act as the link to Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Imagine Kroos’ pinpoint passes playing in Ronaldo and Bale?
He should slot in just fine at Real.