Germany may be facing an injury crisis at the back, but that still has not forced Joachim Low’s hand.
After 2018 World Cup disappointment, Low vowed he would never call up Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels again, freezing the two veterans out as part of an overhaul of the national team squad he hoped would turn the country’s fortunes. Now, with a number of injuries to the back line, some wondered if Low would take back his promise and look to the veterans for cover.
With Niklas Sule suffering a torn ACL, Antonio Ruediger struggling with a nagging groin problem, and Thilo Kehrer sidelined with a long-term foot injury, Low stayed the course and kept both Boateng and Hummels out of the team, announcing the squad for upcoming Euro qualifiers against Belarus and Northern Ireland on Friday morning.
Instead, the boss called upon Borussia Monchengladbach captain Mattias Ginter who will partner with a host of young and inexperienced defenders. The squad includes SC Freiburg defender Robin Koch and Hertha center-back Niklas Stark, who between the two share a single international cap – Koch made his Germany debut last month, while Stark has yet to appear in an international match. Also in the squad is 23-year-old Bayer Leverkusen center-back Jonathan Tah, owner of eight international caps for Germany including starts in three of the last five Euro qualifiers.
Finally, a surprise inclusion was Emre Can, despite having been sent off last time out for Germany and is therefore suspended for the Belarus game. Can is capable at center-back, where he was playing at the time of his red card, although his more natural position is defensive midfield.
Keeping Boateng out of the squad is a justifiable decision by Low, especially after the Bayern defender was sent off just 10 minutes into their last match against Eintracht Frankfurt, leading to a heavy 5-1 defeat that left the club three points off the top of the table. Boateng has looked off the pace all season and has been left on the bench by recently fired Bayern boss Nico Kovac six times across all competitions this season.
The Hummels decision is more questionable as Borussia Dortmund is unbeaten in league play since the start of September and has kept three consecutive Bundesliga clean sheets, including one against current leaders Gladbach. Hummels also captained the side in the wild 3-2 comeback win over Inter this week that saw Dortmund completely dominate the second half after falling 2-0 down.