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Author: Federico Aquè

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For the first time since the 2002 World Cup, Germany will play in an international tournament without Philipp Lahm. The German national team lost not only its captain, but also a tactically fundamental player who left no heirs. After all, can a fullback who, according to Pep Guardiola, has the same football intelligence as Iniesta be replaced?

Therefore there is a dual absence: on Löw’s roster of 23 players for Euro 2016 there is neither a native right back nor a midfielder able to control pace and spaces as naturally as Lahm.

In the last two years Löw has tried to fill the void orienting Emre Can and Sebastian Rudy along the same path as Lahm, even if it has been in the opposite direction: from midfielders to right backs. A way to have a player capable of handling the ball intelligently on the wings, in a game of football where building up play at the centre is increasingly complicated.
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Despite having been a stable part of the group in the last two years, Rudy was cut from the roster in the end, whereas Can is on the list. In any case, the abundance of centre backs brings to mind a Germany capable of changing depending on the opponent and the strategy designed by Löw, switching smoothly from a 4-man to a 3-man defence.

In the most recent friendly matches, the German national team used, for example, the 3-4-3 formation (against Italy) and the 3-5-2 formation (against Slovakia), alternative solutions to the base 4-2-3-1 formation.

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The farewell to Lahm at midfield created less problems in terms of the alternatives. Germany has different profiles that can play alongside the irreplaceable Toni Kroos: Schweinsteiger, Khedira and youngsters Weigl and Kimmich, but Lahm’s absence has contributed to making Germany tend toward the 4-2-3-1, a formation that, in any case, dynamically came about even with Lahm on the pitch.
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Lahm’s retirement completed the German national team’s transformation, freeing up a spot on the team for one of the many attacking midfielders and inside forwards that have been turned out in recent years. Löw sacrificed on of the midfielders and concentrated everything on the talent of various players such as Özil, Müller, Götze, etc., becoming more dangerous offensively, but losing a bit of balance.

Ball circulation moves a few metres farther forward and Germany gains territory more quickly, but risks more if they lose possession. The outcome of this wager will be what determines the world champions’ path in Euro 2016.
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Federico Aquè
Federico Aquè is the editor-in-chief of La Giocata. With a degree in Literature, he has collaborated with Sprint&Sport, Datasport and Sportmediaset. He founded Calcio Critico and writes for L’Ultimo Uomo

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