Stating that Spain has been the biggest stumbling block for his country over the past few years, former German goalkeeping star Jens Lehmann said he “does not expect” the reigning world champions to make it two in a row in the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
The Spaniards beat the Netherlands in the final of the 2010 edition to win their maiden World Cup, before lifting the Euro title two years later.
“Why has Germany not won any big titles in the last few years? I think there is one reason and it is called Spain. If Spain win the World Cup again that would make them the best ever national team. But I do not expect them to win it again,” Lehmann said.
“I think they have peaked already. You see that with the Barcelona team right now, there is some uncertainty,” the 44-year-old added.
Uncapped duo Ander Iturraspe and Daniel Carvajal have both been included in Spain’s 30-man provisional World Cup squad, along with Fernando Torres, but Real Madrid pair Alvaro Arbeloa and Isco have been omitted.
Lehmann, who was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 season, has been part of three World Cup squads during a successful career.
On his country’s chances in the mega-event in Brazil, Lehmann sounded optimistic.
“Germany is always ready to give you a hard fight at the end of a tournament.
“We hope so, as well, this time. But the conditions right now are a little bit problematic because there are some key players that just came back after major injuries. This always gives some uncertainty in preparation,” said Lehmann, who is a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation ambassador.
Speaking about the goalkeepers to watch out for in the World Cup, he said, “Manuel Neuer is a fantastic goalkeeper; probably right now in the tournament the best you can see. And Iker Casillas will be there, but I do not rate him as high as Neuer.
“(Thibaut) Courtois is a really promising talent and could make a difference with Belgium, because Belgium is probably the most underrated team right now because they have got a great group of players.”
On his work with Laureus, Lehmann said, “It’s been an honour to have been asked by Laureus to become one of their ambassadors. In my particular project, you are dealing with girls who are from backgrounds where people have migrated into Germany and where they do not really like their girls being part of football teams, which are normally run by male coaches.
“In our project, the coaches are female. I was quite fortunate with my football playing and can afford a nice life for my children. But these people are not that fortunate and that’s why I want to give something back and support this project,” he said.