World champion Germany announces World Cup roster

By Olaf Goldbecker

Germany Head Coach Silvia Neid announced the squad which is expected to defend the title at the 2011 World Cup in the nation of the reigning champion. Two world champions of 2007 did not make the final cut. Defender Sonja Fuss (FCR Duisburg) and forward Anja Mittag (Turbine Potsdam) will have to watch this year’s competition on TV. Also taken off the roster were defender Josephine Henning (Turbine Potsdam) and forward Conny Pohlers (1.FFC Frankfurt), as well as keeper Lisa Weiss (SG Essen-Schönebeck).

The majority of the players come from the top three clubs. Surprisingly, only three players of champion and Champions League finalist Turbine Potsdam made it onto the final roster. Nobody would openly admit it, but the bad relationship between Silvia Neid and Turbine Coach Bernd Schröder, who does not shy away from public criticism, is a big factor for this. Six players of runners-up 1.FFC Frankfurt are on the roster, and the same number is from FCR Duisburg despite playing a rather mediocre season.

Goalkeepers: Nadine Angerer (1.FFC Frankfurt), Ursula Holl (FCR Duisburg), Almuth Schult (Magdeburger FFC)

In goal, Nadine Angerer will be the evident number one. If she gets injured, Germany has a problem. While not being in the top shape of 2007, Angerer still is the undoubted starter. Backup number one, Ursula Holl, was injured for an extended period of time, and apart from that is not rated higher than a good domestic league goalie. Third keeper is Almuth Schult, U-20 World Champion in the previous year, but a doubtful choice since she is the keeper of 2. Bundesliga bottom dweller Magdeburger FFC.

Defenders: Saskia Bartusiak (1.FFC Frankfurt), Linda Bresonik (FCR Duisburg), Verena Faisst (VfL Wolfsburg), Lena Goessling (SC Bad Neuenahr), Annike Krahn (FCR Duisburg), Babett Peter (Turbine Potsdam), Bianca Schmidt (Turbine Potsdam)

The defense is Germany’s focal point. Saskia Bartusiak seems seeded as center back, but is no security factor. Best chances for playing next to her will be with Annike Krahn, who has been injured for half a year and goes into the tournament with hardly any competitive playing tie. Linda Bresonik will play on one of the outside back positions – not her ideal position since her playing quality is more vital in a center mid position. Expect Babett Peter to be the other outside back.

Midfielders: Fatmire Bajramaj (Turbine Potsdam), Melanie Behringer (1.FFC Frankfurt), Kerstin Garefrekes (1.FFC Frankfurt), Ariane Hingst (1.FFC Frankfurt), Kim Kulig (Hamburger SV), Simone Laudehr (FCR Duisburg), Celia Okoyino da Mbabi (SC Bad Neuenahr)

The midfield is Germany’s big strength and a main reason why the weaker defense can be neglected in many games. A firm seed as center mid is Kim Kulig, who was the best player in the friendly against North Korea last weekend. Serving as right mid will be Kerstin Garefrekes, who brings in tons of experience. Poster girl Lira Bajramaj will be set as left mid unless she plays second forward. The second center mid position will be an open race. Traditionally, Ariane Hingst is a hot candidate for this job, but Simone Laudehr did a good job in this position last weekend as well as Celia Okoyino da Mbabi. Melanie Behringer will rather serve as alternative for the outside mid positions.

Forwards: Inka Grings (FCR Duisburg), Martina Müller (VfL Wolfsburg), Alexandra Popp (FCR Duisburg), Birgit Prinz (1.FFC Frankfurt)

Veteran Birgit Prinz might play her last World Cup – it is commonly expected that she retires after the tournament – but will be seeded probably as second forward behind Inka Grings. This is as long as Grings recovers quickly from her torn muscle. The experienced striker is in a top shape and Germany’s most dangerous scorer. Shooting star Alex Popp will most likely serve as first alternative and care for pressure from the bench especially when a powerful box player is needed. Martina Müller traditionally has the backup role and will show her value when a quicker counter attacking forward is needed to give Grings a rest. Most nations would be happy to have just one striker of the quality all four of these forwards possess.