Germany injected a strong dose of youth into their provisional 30-man World Cup squad on Thursday, calling up talented Schalke 04 teenagers Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer.
Along with 19-year-old Goretzka and 18-year-old Meyer, who had a spectacular debut season in the Bundesliga, coach Joachim Loew also drafted in Borussia Dortmund’s Erik Durm, little-known Shkodran Mustafi of Sampdoria and Matthias Ginter of Freiburg.
Loew did a similar thing before the 2010 edition in South Africa when he announced Germany’s youngest World Cup squad in 76 years and they went on to finish third in the tournament.
Germany have been drawn in Group G for next month’s World Cup in Brazil along with Ghana, Portugal and United States.
“When picking the squad it was important for us to have the right mix of experience, carefreeness and freshness,” Loew told a news conference. “Form and fitness are also central criteria.
“Given the injuries and absences in the past few months it has not been an ideal situation for the national team. But we will rise to the challenges and we will find solutions and alternatives.”
The 21-year-old Durm has been named after producing some superb Champions League performances this season.
Loew, who is preparing to face Poland in a friendly next week, will cut the squad to 25 or 26 for a training camp in Italy on May 21 before submitting his final 23 players for the finals by June 2.
The coach also included Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, now back in action after tearing cruciate knee ligaments last year, but dropped forward Mario Gomez who missed most of the season at Fiorentina through injury.
“Sami’s prospects are very good. He has the will and discipline and is a key player. We are confident we can help him return to top form in time for the tournament,” said Loew before adding that Gomez’s longer absence meant he could not be fit in time.
“He has played only 280 minutes since September. I was of the opinion that he would not be in a position to respond physically to the conditions.”
Loew called up Hoffenheim forward Kevin Volland along with veteran striker Miroslav Klose who is also just back from injury.
“Miro always hits top form at tournaments. He was injured recently but we are convinced he can help the team. It will almost certainly be his last,” the coach said of the 35-year-old striker.
Loew’s midfield, featuring Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil, seems to be his biggest asset.
Chelsea’s Andre Schuerrle also made the cut as did Lukas Podolski of Arsenal.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg SV), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Andre Hahn (Augsburg), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Max Meyer (Schalke 04), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schuerrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim) (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Tony Jimenez and Toby Davis)