The footballing world spent much of last week on tenterhooks waiting for news about the World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022, and after the decision was made known, there were plenty of heated discussions: whilst Russia at least has Moscow, St. Petersburg and Lew Jaschin in terms of football culture, Qatar is an empty, baking-hot hole that has not yet earned a place in the football World Atlas. Some jokers came up with the word Qatar-strophe to describe the decisions, while anyone who took a serious look at the proceedings worked out precisely why these two countries won: they offered Fifa the best share of the profits.
Nevertheless, I spent much of the time thinking about another aspect of these far-off championships: who is going to be the star of the 2022 German side?
First off, it probably won’t be Michael Ballack, who’ll be 45 at the time. He might still be playing, though, if he hasn’t managed to get himself an international trophy by that stage… I can’t imagine Bastian Schweinsteiger staying on to 2022 in order to lift the cup, though – at 37? That would too old, too. It’s quite possible that the German World-Cup-Star 2022 is as yet undiscovered, a little 10 year-old playing with his mates in the local park – all jumpers for goal posts and getting yelled at by mum to come in for dinner. Meanwhile, dad is already dreaming of his son being the next Maradona.
Another possibility, however, is that the German World-Cup-Star 2022 might be one of the players who had their first international game against Sweden in November. There were the Mainz players Holtby and Schürrle, for example, or Schmelzer, Hummels, Großkreutz and Götze from Dortmund. None of these lads is over 22 at the moment; any of them might be at the peak of their footballing powers in Moscow or Doha.
Nevertheless, it’s a long way to go, both in years and in terms of quality, as Holtby and Schürrle made clear on the 15th match day of this season. Their team Mainz 05 lost 1:2 to Frankfurt, and although Schürrle was the one who pulled a goal back, Holtby was only subbed in in the final minutes. Mainz lost on a penalty that was, if you ask me, not justified. Whatever the case, however, this was no world-class performance.
Dortmund, however, are on world-beating form. Borussia have already taken the title of best team in the 2010 leg of the season, and hammered Nuremburg 2:0. Defender Mats Hummels, currently the new hope for the national side, scored one of the goals. His team, however, is already at the top of its game, and at the top of the league with a 10 point lead on the nearest rival.
Despite this, there is a lack of young German striking talent, both at Mainz and Dortmund – and anywhere else, really. Out of the 19 goals scored on this day of play, only 3 were put past the post by players eligible for the German national side: Schürrle, Helmes (Leverkusen) and Hanke (Hannover). Hang on a moment, though! No need to panic! I’ve got a son outside in the garden practicing on a goal marked with my wife’s plant pots. I need to start paying more attention to his game: I’ve still got 12 years to make him into the next Pelé!
Results Matchday 15:
FC St. Pauli – 1. FC Kaiserslautern 1:0
VfB Stuttgart – 1899 Hoffenheim 1:1
VfL Wolfsburg – Werder Bremen 0:0
Eintracht Frankfurt – 1. FSV Mainz 05 2:1
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Hannover 96 1:2
SC Freiburg – Hamburger SV 1:0
FC Schalke 04 – Bayern München 2:0
Bayer Leverkusen – 1. FC Köln 3:2
1. FC Nürnberg – Borussia Dortmund 0:2
1 Borussia Dortmund 40 P
2 1. FSV Mainz 05 30 P
3 Bayer Leverkusen 29 P
4 Hannover 96 28 P
5 SC Freiburg 24 P
6 1899 Hoffenheim 23 P
7 Bayern München 23 P
8 Eintracht Frankfurt 23 P
9 Hamburger SV 21 P
10 Werder Bremen 19 P
11 1. FC Nürnberg 18 P
12 1. FC Kaiserslautern 17 P
13 VfL Wolfsburg 17 P
14 FC St. Pauli 17 P
15 FC Schalke 04 16 P
16 VfB Stuttgart 12 P
17 1. FC Köln 12 P
18 Borussia Mönchengladbach 10 P