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Loew worries about Wolfsburg

Xinhua, September 30, 2015 Adjust font size:

German World Cup winning coach Joachim Loew will keep a close eye on VfL Wolfsburg in Wednesday's Champions League group match against Manchester United.

Not because the 55-year-old is expecting a sensational win for the underdogs but because he is worried about several of his candidates for the German national team.

Andre Schuerrle, Max Kruse and Julian Draxler could well play a vital part in their country's upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying games against Ireland (October 8 in Dublin) and Georgia (October 11 in Leipzig) - but the trio are currently out of form.

Despite the major crisis of Wolfsburg's owner, the car giant Volkswagen, is facing due to false exhaust emissions and as a result possible cuts in future sponsorship, the club seems to be coming to a turning point on the pitch too.

The northern Germans originally planned to build up a sort of "VfL Germany", meaning, to develop German talents. However the strategy has not yet paid off. In the middle of the crisis stands the man who was responsible for the World Cup winning assist in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina. Everyone remembers the 24-year-old Andre Schuerrle crossing for his teammate Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich) to hit the back of the net in Germany's 1-0 win over the South Americans.

For now that moment of glory is nothing more than a sweet memory. Schuerrle is currently is no more than a shadow of bygone days and this after Wolfsburg paid Chelsea 32 million euros for a man hopeful of continuing his brilliant career in the national team at his new club as well.

So far the skilful and quick winger was more a disappointment than a winning factor. His record is rather poor so far: 19 games for Wolfsburg (one goal and three assists). Currently Schuerrle is alternating between the bench and the pitch and teammates are questioning whether he should be in the starting eleven.

When 2015 German Cup winner and 2014/2015 league runner-up Wolfsburg starts its adventure in the "Theater of Dreams", Schuerrle might again be substitute. It wouldn't be a positive message for Loew and Schuerrle, if he does not get back to form soon, may well risk being left out of the German squad.

Besides Schuerrle's problems, things are not going too well Max Kruse and Julian Draxler either. Their coach Dieter Hecking is - after seven league games and one in the Champions League - still trying to find the ideal lineup for his team. He changed the tactical system from a 4-2-3-1 - his favorite - or a 4-1-2-3 system to a 4-1-4-1 (against Moscow 1-0). Against a strong team like Manchester Hecking might need a double six, meaning a more solid defense. That would mean one of Loew's candidates will not be in action on the big stage - and not happy.

All three - Schuerrle, Kruse and Draxler - are competing for a central striking position or a place on the left flank. Meaning: Three is one too many in a 4-2-3-1 system. Hecking has to find a way to please his stars and be successful.

Hecking has already come up with a clear statement demanding more quality from Schuerrle.

"His head is full of doubts at the moment and they are stopping him playing at the level he's capable of. We expect more from him, he knows that," said the coach, who continued, "Our game is ragged, we lack ideas and confidence."

One thing seems to be clear - Wolfsburg is having more problems than expected rebuilding its team after Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City/80 million euros) and Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan/20 million) left.

Looking at the game at Old Trafford, Wolfsburg's role seems to be clear. When Schuerrle, Kruse and Draxler meet their German national teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger, they will be "slightly the underdog," as Schuerrle put it. Wolfsburg certainly does not want to again be at the receiving end of another hammering.

In the Bundesliga the team recently suffered a disastrous 5-1 defeat against champions Bayern Munich (Robert Lewandowski scoring five goals in nine minutes). Meaning: The attempt to secure the position as Germany's number two club behind Bayern is not going to plan. Wolfsburg is already nine points behind the top dogs.

In addition, the team will have to survive in Manchester without Luiz Gustavo, a key player in midfield, who is out injured. "We have to give it everything if we are to have a chance against a world class team like Manchester," said Andre Schuerrle.

Wolfsburg against Manchester - looking at it from a German point of view, a moment of brilliance like the one in the 2014 World Cup final is needed if Schuerrle and Co are to enjoy another evening to remember. Endi