Ever since the World Cup of 2006 has Lukas Podolski been one of the stalwarts of the success for the Germany national team. However, with young talents en masse on hand Löw might have to consider leaving Prinz Poldi on the bench in the future.
Podolski supporters will be quick to point to the former Köln captains outstanding stats for the German national team. The forward has managed to score 42 goals in his 90 internationals for Germany. He had in fact scored more goals for the German national team than in the Bundesliga when he was playing for Germany in the World Cup in 2010.
However, stats can deceive by not taking into account how these numbers came to be. Going through Podolski’s scoring record since the World Cup in 2010 and makes clear why Löw maybe should consider giving his place in the starting line up to somebody else. The Cologne striker’s goals in the World Cup were scored against Australia and England, two teams that didn’t exactly bring their A-game to the tournament. Furthermore, the two goals Podolski has scored since then have exclusively come against weaker opponents: Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Poldolski produced his three assists in the same matches.
Whenever Germany has met stronger oppositions since the World Cup Podolski seemed to be missing in action. His weak game against Brazil is by no means a first. German football magazine kicker gave him on average a 4.13 in the last four friendlies(1 being the best score, and 6 the weakest on kicker’s scale). (Germany has played Italy, Australia and Uruguay in the other three friendlies.)In Germany’s current qualification campaign Podolski doesn’t fare much better according to kicker, where he has achieved the rather poor grade average of 3.79.
One weak performance by a player should by no means disqualify him from the national team. However, Podolski has been playing weak ever since the World Cup. Löw knows and values Podolski’s qualities. There are few players who manage to shoot better with their left foot than Podolski, his neanderthal brutality when firing a shot is matched by very few players on the international level. Podolski’s enthusiasm and drive can at best influence a team to lift their game, and when that happens Podolski truly shines. There has never been any doubts about the fact that Podolski posses talent in spades, but his supporters and opponents argue wholeheartedly about wether or not he has managed to utilize this talent at all times. His performances since the World Cup indicate that the people doubting Podolski may have a case on their hand.
Germany’s youth revolution has produced a number of players who are now trying to challenge Podolski’s place in the starting line up. Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle make it truly hard for Löw to leave them out of the starting line up with brilliant performances in the Bundesliga and the national team. Last night Schürrle provided a presence in the centre that players who play in Löw’s 4-2-3-1 line up need to have, while Podolski was more married to the left flank than Dennis Kucinich is to the left in the US. Schürrle had already shown against Azerbaijan that he could be an asset, and he proved this again against a much stronger opposition last night.
If Löw thinks about going into the next tournament with players like Schürrle and Götze in the starting line up, integrating them in the team should happen rather sooner than later.
What do you think? Should Podolski be left out of the starting line up of the national team in the future? Leave a comment below.