One of the big position battles that was going to be decided right before the start of the World Cup was supposed to be in net for Team Germany. But an injury may have made that moot.
Rene Adler, who many expected was going to be the starter for the Germans, has broken a rib and the 25-year-old star at Bayer Leverkusen is in question for South Africa. Adler sustained the injury during his side's 2-1 Bundesliga loss against Stuttgart last week. After meeting with team doctors on Tuesday, Adler said expects to only miss one match for Leverkusen and then be back, but that might be wishful thinking.
"According to the doctors, this type of fracture should heal quickly so I'm cautiously optimistic," he told the team website.
Germany coach Joachim Low is bringing Adler, Manuel Neuer and Tim Wiese to South Africa to battle for the starting role, with the job as Adler’s to lose.
Meanwhile, midfielder Simon Rolfes admitted Tuesday his World Cup dream is nearly gone after struggling to regain his fitness after a knee injury. The 28-year-old has won 21 caps for Germany, but he had damaged cartilage removed from his knee and hasn’t played for in the Bundesliga since January. Rolfes last played for Germany in the 1-0 win over Russia last October.
“Most likely, the World Cup is out of my reach," said the Leverkusen captain. "I have not given up hope and I am in contact with Joachim, but I don't think I will be there, which is a pity."
More potential bad news for Germany is that stars Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski are not faring well in Bundesliga play. Podolski has scored just two goals in 25 games for Cologne all season, with only one goal since in the last seven months. Klose, meanwhile, has only scored twice in 22 games for Bayern Munich.
Thus, Low is pondering recalling Kevin Kuranyi to the national team. Kuranyi has not played for Germany since October 2008 when he angrily left the World Cup qualifier against Russia. But he has 18 goals this season for Schalke, the second-most in the Bundesliga. That’s more than all of Loew's first-choice Germany strikers (Klose, Podolski and Mario Gomez) combined. Kuranyi has admitted to making a mistake by storming off against the Russians.
"I know that they have not had very much success this season, but I have no doubts about their quality,'' Low said of Klose and Podolski. “I am still considering (Kuranyi), and I will certainly reveal my choice before May 6. But the squad announcement cannot be overshadowed by the issue of Kuranyi."
The Germans should have little trouble emerging from Group D, which also has Australia, Serbia and Ghana. Former star Oliver Kahn thinks his countrymen are one of the overall favorites because of depth and experience. The Germans are 12/1 to win it all on Bodog.
"At the end of the day, the favorites are always the same: Spain, Brazil, Italy, France and Germany too. However, teams' form in the build-up to a World Cup tells you nothing whatsoever," said Kahn. "Every World Cup develops its own, very powerful dynamic, based on who copes best and fastest with the climate, the conditions, and so on. So it’s very hard to say what might happen.”
Germany still has warm-up matches against Malta on May 13, Hungary on May 29 and Bosnia-Herzegovina June 3. Team The Germans are currently ranked sixth in the world and have won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990.