Germany coach Joachim Low admitted Tuesday he has 'serious' concerns about the form of several of his squad with the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ now just two months away.
Germany's first game in Group D is against Australia on 13 June, but with several of his stars struggling for form, Low says his priority is to see an improvement before the FIFA World Cup where his side also face Serbia and Ghana. "I am not worried, but the situation is serious," Low told German tabloid Bild with his side bidding to win their fourth FIFA World Cup title in South Africa. "As I have said before, our task must now be to get the players back to top form as quickly as possible. A lot can change in the next six weeks."
Our selection procedure is far from complete, but we will observe the players attentively, so to be prepared for various possibilities for the World Cup.
Germany were beaten 1-0 in Munich by Argentina last month in the friendly and face three other friendlies against Malta on 15 May, Hungary on 29 May and Bosnia-Herzegovina on 3 June. Low's biggest headache is the lack of form of his first-choice strikers Miroslav Klose of Bayern Munich and Cologne's Lukas Podolski, who between them have scored just four Bundesliga goals all season.
A cold and achilles tendon injury has also seen Germany captain Michael Ballack lose his place at Chelsea, but Low says he has spoken to his skipper and expects him to be back in the team soon. Further injuries to Stuttgart midfielder Sami Khedira and Hamburg's Marcell Jansen could threaten their FIFA World Cup involvement with Low set to name his squad for South Africa on 6 May.
Low is also under increasing pressure to reverse his decision to never again select rebel striker Kevin Kuranyi who is in sensational form for Schalke having scored 18 goals this season. Kuranyi famously walked out on the Germany team in October 2008 after being left out of the matchday squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Russia.
But Low says the situation can be corrected and cites the examples of Bastian Schweinsteiger at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Podolski at UEFA EURO 2008 who both produced stellar performances on the back of below-average seasons. "Fundamentally, this sort of excitement sometimes happens before a tournament," said Low. "I think back to Schweinsteiger in 2006 and Podolski in 2008 who were not in their best form going into the tournament, yet both played well. It must be our goal to get all those players with problems back into form as quickly as possible and we have already proved we can do that."
Late start to camp
With Bayern Munich facing Werder Bremen at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on 15 May in the German Cup final, ten of Low's squad will be involved which will keep them out of the match against Malta on the same day. Players involved in the German Cup final will also miss the start of the training camp in Sicily which begins on 14 May.
"If eight to ten players are absent at the beginning of the World Cup preparations, it is a problem, but we must react by showing ourselves to be flexible," said Low. "Our selection procedure is far from complete, but we will observe the players attentively, so to be prepared for various possibilities for the World Cup."
Germany, the EURO 2008 runners-up, will hold a training camp in Sicily from May 14 to 21 before switching to a training camp at Appiano from May 21 to June 2 in the Italian Alps.