Adler anointed as Germany's WC stopper
Germany goes into its final friendly before the announcement of its
World Cup squad with one key decision already made.
Coach Joachim Loew has picked Rene Adler to be the goalkeeper for Wednesday's friendly against Argentina, putting the 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen 'keeper in pole position to be the No. 1 in South Africa as well.
Loew had said before that the goalkeeper against Argentina would likely be his No. 1 and goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke confirmed Monday that Adler is now regarded as Germany's first choice.
"Rene is No. 1 at the moment ... he has it in his own hands whether he is the No. 1 at the World Cup," Koepke said.
Loew has 25 players in the squad - an unusually high number, but the coach wants an opportunity to assess all the contenders for the World Cup.
"I expect important indications from this match," Loew said.
Fullback Philipp Lahm is one of the few players who can be certain of a place in the starting 11 at the World Cup.
"For many players it's a chance to secure a place in the World Cup squad," Lahm said ahead of the match.
Loew's decision to pick Adler is not a surprise, since he had already been in goal for important qualifying games. Manuel Neuer of Schalke and Tim Wiese of Werder Bremen are also expected to make the World Cup squad.
The game comes amid strained relations between Loew and the German football federation. Contract negoatiations in January foundered and his future will not be decided until after the World Cup.
After the failure of the talks, in which Loew and his staff asked for more money, the federation and the coach proclaimed a truce but the matter will linger throughout the World Cup.
The federation president, Theo Zwanziger, has come out to support Loew before the match against Argentina and the World Cup, saying the coach was irreplaceable.
For Argentina, the match is an opportunity to test itself against another genuine World Cup contender.
A victory would be a major boost for embattled coach Diego Maradona, who has had come under fire for his massive number of players used, as well as his tactics.
Maradona recently completed a two-month ban for a profanity-laden rant after his team scrambled through to the World Cup after poor qualifying performances.
Maradona said he expected a "spectacular game."
'You have to respect Germany, they fight until the last minute," Maradona said.
Germany has three World Cup titles - the most recent in 1990 when it beat Maradona's Argentina in the final - and Argentina two.
"We have a good squad, at least on paper, but we didn't play as a great team in qualifying," Bayer Munich's Argentina defender Martin Demichelis said.