Germany and England will continue their preparations for Euro 2016 when the two rivals face off in a friendly at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on Saturday. Both, though, will have to do so without their injured captains.
Germany skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger and his England counterpart Wayne Rooney, now teammates at Manchester United, have long been integral figures for their country. But their latest fitness problems only cast further doubt on just how much of a role they should play in France next summer.
Schweinsteiger sits fourth on his country’s all-time list of most-capped players and was the driving force in Germany’s World Cup final victory over Argentina in 2014. However, his fitness had been in doubt going into the tournament and has only become more of a question mark in the two years since. Indeed, the 31-year-old’s physical struggles were cited by Pep Guardiola after allowing him to leave Bayern Munich for Manchester United last summer. At Old Trafford, the 31-year-old has started just 13 Premier League games so far this season.
Schweinsteiger had initially been named in Germany’s squad to take on England on Saturday and Italy next Tuesday, before having to withdraw due to a knee injury. An MRI scan later revealed that he had partially torn the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, meaning he faces a race against time to be fit for Euro 2012, which for Germany gets underway on June 12 with a match against Ukraine. With the likes of Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan, although injured himself right now, among possible alternatives, the question has been asked whether Schweinsteiger still warrants a starting berth. Coach Joachim Löw , though, remains hopeful that his captain will be in France.
“It's bitter,” Low said. “Bastian was on the right track. I know that he has been looking forward to his time with the national team and the two friendlies. I have told Bastian that I have not written him off for the European Championship.
“The tournament does not start tomorrow. There is still time, we don't have to make a decision today. Bastian is a top professional, his attitude has role-model character. I know that he will give it his all to return to full fitness for the tournament.”
For Rooney, the situation is less immediately perilous, with the 30-year-old set to return from a two-month knee injury layoff shortly after the international break. However, his place in England’s starting lineup has long been a topic of debate due to declining performances.
And there is now even greater pressure on his place, given the performances of his rivals. Harry Kane currently leads the Premier League scoring charts with 21 goals for Tottenham, while Jamie Vardy is joint-second on the list with 19 goals for table-toppers Leicester City. At the same time, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck are back available and in the squad after long spells out with injury.
Saturday’s game, then, presents an opportunity for others to demonstrate they than can be more than capable alternatives to Rooney and Schweinsteiger in France.
Kickoff time: 3:45 p.m. EDT
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (PSG)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter, Mats Hummels (both Borussia Dortmund), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Antonio Rudiger (Roma), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
Midfielders: Emre Can (Liverpool), Karim Bellarabi, Christoph Kramer (both Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler, André Schürrle (both Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Max Kruse (Wolfsburg), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim)
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)