Germany Camp Focus – Die Mannschaft hopes out of Adler’s hands

Joachim Low announced the 27 names in his preliminary World Cup squad last week, and the most striking absence is that of Rene Adler, the Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper who was to be Die Mannschaft’s No 1. Adler, 25, suffered a rib injury in April during a game for his club which has now ruled him out of the summer tournament, as well as opening the door for Bayern Munich’s Hans-Jorg Butt to return to the international scene after seven years out in the wilderness and a decade since his last cap.

Butt, who has been between the sticks for Bayern’s march to the Champions League final, will fight for a starting place in the national team with the two other goalkeepers included in Low’s early squad, Manuel Neuer of Schalke 04 and Tim Wiese of Weder Bremen. Adler suffered the injury in April and had returned to action for his club last weekend, but further pain from the problem meant surgery was the only remaining option and the recovery period would rule him out of the World Cup. Adler, who was confirmed as Germany’s first-choice goalkeeper by Low earlier this year, has long been a rumoured transfer target for some of England’s biggest clubs, including Manchester United – of whom he is believed to be a fan – and Arsenal, but will not now get the chance to show his worth on the grandest stage.

Adler failed to cover himself in glory in Germany’s last friendly – which was also the first after he was handed the starter’s gloves – against Argentina in March. It was his mistake that allowed Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain to notch the only goal of the game in the 45th minute and, more worryingly, was far from his only error. Prior to the game with the South Americans, Adler had received praise for his maturity between the sticks and dominant style of goalkeeping, but the lack of composure he displayed when faced with Diego Maradona’s collection of attacking talent raised deep concerns. Having played five times during World Cup qualifying, travelled to Euro 2008 as the third-choice goalkeeper and received nine caps overall, Adler was not a novice in the international arena yet showed serious flaws in his game during the encounter with la Albiceleste. Adler took the role as first-choice goalkeeper during qualification, after the retirement of Jens Lehmann and the death of Robert Enke but now he too faces a challenge to his position from one of the three net minders called up by Low.

Of the trio of Neuer, Wiese and Butt, it is the former that would appear to be Low’s new No 1. Neuer, a year younger than Adler, is another highly-rated custodian with suitors gathering from across Europe and has been linked with a move away from Schalke for a number of years despite his young age. After a sterling showing with Germany’s U-21 side during the 2009 European Under-21 Championship, Neuer was strongly rumoured to be top of Bayern Munich’s shortlist of transfer targets. Indeed, if Neuer had moved to Bavaria he would have been in direct competition for a starting berth with Butt, who moved to Munich in 2008 to compete with Michael Rensing for the honour of replacing Oliver Kahn. After initially starting at Bayern as Rensing’s back-up, Butt has grown to be the newly-crowned German champion’s first-choice in goal, helping Louis van Gaal’s side to not only the title but the Champions League final too. Whether Butt can cap a fine season domestically with an impressive performance internationally remains to be seen, but as the late call-up of the trio of goalkeepers, the 35-year-old would appear to be the third runner in this three horse race.

After being led by the dominant, unpredictable personalities of Kahn and Lehmann, whoever starts Germany’s first World Cup game against Australia on June 13 will mark a departure for the three-time winners. After Adler’s uncertain display against Argentina, doubts were always going to be cast over his suitability as Germany’s last line of defence but the loss of a key player in Low’s plans remains a big blow. Adler, however, is young and his time will come again, while for one of the three pretenders to his throne, their time is now.

Provisional 30-man Germany squad

Goalkeepers
Hans-Jorg Butt (Bayern)
Tim Wiese(Werder Bremen)
Manuel Neuer (Schalke)

Defenders
Arne Friedrich (Hertha BSC)
Philipp Lahm (Bayern)
Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen)
Marcell Jansen (Hamburg)
Heiko Westermann (Schalke)
Serdar Tasci (Stuttgart)
Andreas Beck (Hoffenheim)
Jerome Boateng (Hamburg)
Dennis Aogo (Hamburg)
Holger Badstuber (Bayern)

Midfielders
Michael Ballack (Chelsea)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern)
Piotr Trochowski (Hamburg)
Mesut Ozil (Werder Bremen)
Marko Marin (Werder Bremen)
Sami Khedira (Stuttgart)
Toni Kroos (Byaer Leverkusen)
Christian Trasch (Stuttgart)

Forwards
Miroslave Klose (Bayern)
Lukas Podolski (Koln)
Mario Gomez (Bayern)
Cacau (Stuttgart)
Stefan Kie

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