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24 Jun 2018

World Cup 2018: Germany - Boateng suspension may be blessing in disguise for Die Mannschaft

World Cup 2018: Germany - Boateng suspension may be blessing
in disguise for Die Mannschaft

The Bayern Munich defender was sent off during Germany's dramatic 2-1 win over Sweden but his absence could do Joachim Low's side more good than harm

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Lacking in both games

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Sule should start against South Korea

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Sule a better option than Rudiger

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Jerome Boateng's late red card in Germany's 2-1 victory over Sweden had looked to be a potential final nail in their World Cup coffin but, in reality, it may lead to a more assured German back line.

With 73 caps to his name in an international career spanning a decade, Boateng should be one of the first names on the German teamsheet. But in the World Cup so far, he has looked a pale imitation of a top-class central defender.

Germany's defensive woes in their opening game against Mexico have been spoken about to the point of tedium, something which Joachim Low would have expected his players to put right against the Swedes.

But once again, the world champions were prised open on multiple occasions and could easily have lost the game. Boateng would have shouldered a good deal of the blame.

Lacking in both games

In the Mexico game, Hirving Lozano found himself up against Mesut Ozil in the penalty area, easing past the out-of-his-comfort-zone playmaker to score. 

Boateng had been taken out of the game by a simple pass from Javier Hernandez, having lumbered back towards his own goal and offered no real cover against the counter-attacking Mexican pair.

Ola Toivonen's goal saw Boateng ambling out to the left wing in a disappointing effort to prevent a cross from Viktor Claesson. The Swede, again under no real pressure, delivered the ball for Toivonen to score and leave Germany's hopes hanging from a thread.

It was a lapse that seemed to inspire Boateng but in all the wrong ways. Keen to play a part in bringing his side level, time and again he opted to carry the ball forward out of defence without ever really contributing a meaningful run or pass.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Of Boateng's 114 touches in the game, more than half came in the opposition half, to the right-hand side of the pitch. 

His lax passing frequently put teammates under pressure to retain possession, he failed to complete either of his two attempted crosses in the game and his two shots from range served only to relieve the pressure his side had built on the Swedish defence. 

As the unforgiving pair of Gary Neville and Roy Keane alluded to in ITV's half-time analysis, he looked like a player desperate to play the Franz Beckenbauer role but without the quality to do so.

There was no need for Boateng to play in such a way. He had better options available - letting Toni Kroos worry about building attacks from deep would have been one - and it left his side constantly in danger of a counter-attack, as they had been against Mexico. 

If Sweden had a player with Lozano's speed, they may well have punished them.

Sule should start against South Korea

Now, though, Low is presented with an opportunity to blood one of the new generation and improve his side in the process. 

Though there may be a straight swap with a return for Mats Hummels, Low should change his back two entirely, dropping Boateng and Antonio Rudiger for Hummels and Niklas Sule.

Sule is the future of the German national team's defence. Tall and broad-shouldered, the 22-year-old played 42 times for Bayern Munich last season and would help to solve some of the problems Germany have encountered so far in the tournament.

REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

He is deceptively fast, said to be behind only the live wire winger Kingsley Coman in the Bayern speed stakes. 

His ability to get back at pace would evidently be a useful boost for a team which looks like being picked apart at will on the counter.

Sule is also a player who looks capable of playing in almost any position and his quality on the ball means he offers a better option in transitioning from defence to attack as does the unconvincing figure of Boateng.

With just one yellow card in almost 3,000 minutes of action for Bayern this season, he can be depended on to keep his head. That will be important as the pressure continues to ramp up on the world champions struggling to retain their crown.

Sule a better option than Rudiger

After playing more football than Boateng this season and developing an understanding with Hummels, there was certainly an argument to be made that Sule should have started this tournament as first choice anyway.

Given the topsy-turvy form of Rudiger at times for Chelsea last campaign, Sule would have been justified in being disappointed to find himself as fourth choice once Hummels was made unavailable through injury.

REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Now, Joachim Low should have the confidence to place his faith in the six-foot-five centre-half. 

The South Korean attack will not scare him but the proposition of keeping tabs on Son Heung-min would prove a revealing test of his credentials at this level.

When Sule played in the Confederations Cup win last year, Germany's win was said to be proof that they could compete on the international stage with a B team. 

Timo Werner has made the step up from reserve to first-choice. If Sule is given a similar opportunity, he can chisel his name into the German teamsheet for the next decade.

What do you think about the absence of Jerome Boateng for Germany? Let us know by commenting below.