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Loew facing striker problem against France and Portugal

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Berlin, March 29 (IANS) Satisfying results against two underdogs don’t conceal Germany’s most pressing problem. At this summer’s European Championship, coach Joachim Loew’s team will have to do the job without an out-and-out spearhead.

The 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Iceland (3-0) and Romania (1-0) showed distinct profligacy in converting chances, something that is causing concern.

Leroy Sane (City), Serge Gnabry (Bayern), and Timo Werner, and Kai Havertz (Chelsea) might be skillful wingers, but the four are far from being goal-scoring machines.

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An inadequacy in converting chances at their clubs and in the national team is becoming one of the primary concerns for Loew when facing leading football nations such as France and Portugal and then Hungary in the group stage at the continental tournament, Xinhua news reported.

“If we had a Lewandowski around, we would win every game,” former Bayern president and TV pundit Uli Hoeness said, adding: “But we don’t.”

The times of top-class center forwards such as Miroslav Klose, Horst Hrubesch, and Gerd Mueller seem over.

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Hoeness tried to ease tensions by adding, “I am not concerned as we still manage to create chances. I would be concerned if we weren’t able to create any.”

“We have to improve on that and make things much easier for us,” Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich commented.

Loew’s answer to his spearhead problem is his forwards have to try to confuse the opponent’s defence by constantly changing positions.

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While Gnabry’s figures (15 goals in 19 internationals) appear satisfying, Werner, Sane, and Havertz have struggled to gain more consistency.

While Loew seems blessed with a wide range of top-class midfielders, he is missing a reliable force upfront.

Therefore, the German coach is demanding from his skillful midfield made up of Ilkay Guendogan, Leon Goretzka, Kimmich, and Toni Kroos to develop more efficiency when joining the team’s attacking efforts.

Currently, the issue seems Loew’s most significant problem as the 61-year-old is enjoying the upward trend of Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger in the back.

Due to their inefficiency up front Julian Draxler (Paris), Marco Reus, and Julian Brandt (Dortmund) are in danger of losing their places in Loew’s squad.

Sane and Werner are under attack due to their carelessness close to the opponent’s goal. German keeper Manuel Neuer spoke about a lack of coolness, smartness, and determination.

Loew is trying to create a dynamic midfield to counteract his difficulties relying on speedy players. Currently injured Real star Kroos is said to be in danger of losing his starting place if he cannot play faster.

He hopes Sane and Werner can improve over the remaining weeks until Germany’s Euro curtain-raiser against France on June 15, followed by the encounter against Portugal three days later.

–IANS

rkm/rt

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