A car crash, a scandal, a driving ban and injuries. For Germany, a team known for being precise and rigourous when it comes to preparing for a major tournament, the series of turbulent events in just one week seem to have thrown them off track.
To make matters worse, when coach Joachim Loew took his squad to northern Italy, hoping it would help them acclimatise to the fierce heat of Brazil’s northern coast, they were greeted by heavy rain, leaving their preparation in complete tatters.
Regular police visits for investigating two incidents, have also been a rather unwelcome distraction. The series of unfortunate incidents has left squad members seeking the services of the team’s sports psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann, making him the busiest man among the support staff.
Hermann has also been attending to defender Kevin Grosskreutz, who kicked-off a scandal by urinating in the foyer of a plush Berlin hotel after the German Cup final, the same match where captain Philipp Lahm and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer picked up worrying injuries. Later star forward Marco Reus was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Loew became his second ‘patient’ when the ever-so-calm German coach was hit with a six-month driving ban.
The worst, though, was still to come when a 63-year-old German was seriously injured after being hit by a car driven by professional touring-car racer Pascal Wehrlein, 19, with Germany centre-back Benedikt Hoewedes as his passenger. A course steward was also hurt in the accident during the Mercedes-sponsored event, which included Formula One star and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg. The product presentation, which had allowed Germany’s World Cup stars to hitch a ride with professional drivers, quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for both Mercedes and the German FA.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said Hoewedes and attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, who also witnessed the crash, had spoken to the team’s psychologist. All the future sponsors events were being reviewed. It’s been a very uncharacteristic build-up for a team designated as one the tournament favourites. They’ll be hoping for a turn-around in their fortunes upon reaching Brazil.