Achtung! Germany Heads to Bahia

Joachim Löw brushes aside the car accidents, speeding tickets, and public urination scandals, brings his squad to Brazil

Today the German Football Association released the names of the 23 players who will travel to Brazil. Coach Joachim Löw had called up an initial 26-man roster, but after last night’s 2-2 draw with Cameroon, he sent Shkodran Mustafi, Marcel Schmelzer, Kevin Volland packing.

The decision effectively puts to rest any lingering questions about the fitness of team captain Philipp Lahm and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, both of whom were injured in Bayern Munich’s May 17th Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB) Cup final victory over Borussia Dortmund. Lahm and Neuer both made the 23-man squad, as did Bastian Schweinsteiger, another key player struggling with injuries.

The final roster also shows that whatever questions Löw had about Kevin Grosskreutz, who’d been embroiled in something of a scandal after it emerged that he’d gotten drunk and urinated in the lobby of a Berlin hotel after his Dortmund side lost the Cup final, they weren’t enough to leave the utility man in Germany. (The Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s premier newspapers, asked some tough questions when the Grosskreutz scandal broke; for instance, why had he pissed in the hotel instead of on the hotel like everyone else, “for example, in the back, between the trashcans, where nobody can see.”)

The exclusion of 22-year-old Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi was not a surprise to German fans. However, both Dortmund defender Schmelzer, 26, and Hoffenheim attacker Volland, 21, were expected to make the squad. Schmelzer has 16 caps and was one of the team’s only left-footed players—the others are Roman Weidenfeller, Lukas Podolski, and Mesut Özil—but the left back has been struggling with a persistent knee injury. Volland is young and inexperienced—he has just a single cap—but was one of only two forwards named to Löw’s initial 26-man roster and was therefore expected to be in Brazil. Without Volland, Löw will proceed with only one designated striker: Miroslav Klose.

Löw will no doubt hope training camp in Bahia will present his team with fewer distractions than they’ve had so far. Last week, in addition to a car accident involving Benedikt Hoewedes and Julian Draxler, Löw had his own driver’s license revoked for speeding.

“We have the right mix of young, highly-talented footballers in addition to players with a lot of tournament experience who know what it takes,” Löw said of his team selection. “Our players have character; the team has character. With this squad we fly to Brazil with confidence, where we have big goals.” If Löw can get his team focused, he might be able to turn those goals into reality.