Illness, injury hinder Germany for Messi-less Argentina
Dave Sport Writer
Germany are set to hand out several debuts with Joachim Loew missing a host of first-choice names for Wednesday’s friendly against an Argentina without Lionel Messi.
Like the Germans, Argentina must do without some big names in Dortmund, where only two thirds of tickets have been sold for the friendly.
The match is a repeat of the 2014 World Cup final, but Argentina’s Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo is set to be the only survivor.
Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero have been left out of the Argentina squad while playmaker and captain Messi is suspended.
The 32-year-old superstar is serving a three-month ban after accusing governing body CONMEBOL of “corruption” at the Copa America, where his team finished third.
The German camp has been forced into a reshuffle with 13 players dropping out for illness or injury.
“It will be difficult to expect great things when it comes to the line-up, but you can expect seriousness and commitment,” assured Loew.
Loew admitted wanting to use the Argentina match to test out combinations with an eye on Euro 2020, “but we won’t be able to do that now”.
Key midfielders Toni Kroos of Real Madrid and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan are both injured, while a knee knock means there is a question mark over Dortmund captain Marco Reus.
As a result, Loew has called up defender Robin Koch from Freiburg and midfielder Sebastian Rudy, who played a key role in Hoffenhiem’s shock win at Bayern Munich on Saturday.
With defenders Matthias Ginter, out with a shoulder injury, and Jonathan Tah, who has a cold, also missing, Loew will test new players.
Hertha Berlin defender Niklas Stark will start, as will Freiburg forward Luca Waldschmidt, in for first-choice striker Timo Werner, who has a cold.
ON THE BENCH
There will be much attention on Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who will start with German captain Manuel Neuer on the bench.
Loew has said Neuer will return for Sunday’s Euro 2020 qualifier at minnows Estonia, but there are calls for Ter Stegen, 27, to usurp Neuer, 33, as first choice.
“I don’t feel under any more pressure than usual,” said Ter Stegen in Dortmund.
“I want to do my best, as always, just like everyone else in the team.
“I think that despite the withdrawals, we’re still bringing a lot of quality.”
In the Argentinian camp, coach Lionel Scaloni will be without River Plate and Boca Juniors players involved in the semifinals of the Copa Libertadore.
Rising talents Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Matias Vargas (Espanyol Barcelona) and Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) are set to get their chance.
Experience will come from Man City’s Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Angel Correa of Atletico Madrid or Paulo Dybala of Juventus.