Germany coach Joachim Low has named a powerful 21-man squad for Wednesday's friendly against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern as the hosts begin their preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Low has recalled nine players involved in May's UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, who missed the two-match tour of the United States at the start of June which culminated in the American's shock 4-3 win over Germany.
Germany are five-points clear at the top of their World Cup qualifying group, with matches to come in September against Austria and Faroe Islands, then October against Ireland and Sweden -- and Low is using the friendly against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern for some fine-tuning.
It will be the first time the coach has gathered his first-choice players since the 4-1 qualifier win over Kazakhstan in Nurnberg last March. "I am very pleased that for the first time in five months we have many of the players back who form the backbone of the team," said Low, whose side currently sit second in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, 47 places above Paraguay.
For the first time in five months we have many of the players back who form the backbone of the team.
"It is important to start well to start in a season which will end for us with the World Cup in Brazil. We want to used the game against Paraguay to tune up for the World Cup qualifiers in September and October. "
Both Bayern pair Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze, who are returning from ankle and hamstring injuries respectively, are left out, but Munich right-back Philipp Lahm returns to skipper the team. Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira are included, having missed the US tour before the Spanish league finished last season.
Low has also named Chelsea's new signing Andre Schurrle, plus Arsenal pair Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker, while Lazio striker Miroslav Klose and Fiorentina forward Mario Gomez are also included. Klose, 35, is just one short of Gerd Mueller's 39-year-old record of 68 goals for Germany.
But several of those who made their Germany debuts in the United States have been left out, namely Bayer Leverkusen pair Phillip Wollscheid and Sidney Sam, as well as forwards Max Kruse of Borussia Moenchengladbach and Mainz 05's Nicolai Muller.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Rene Adler (Hamburg)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielder: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid/ESP), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid/ESP), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal/ENG), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea/ENG)
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Fiorentina/ITA), Miroslav Klose (Lazio/ITA)