Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What if Germany sent this team to the 2002 World Cup

Germany 2002
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

This is my all-time team for an imaginary German team at the 2002 World Cup Finals. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Sweden World Cup1950
Austria-Hungary 1954
Argentina World Cup 1958
Scotland World Cup 1970
United Kingdom World Cup 1970
England World Cup 1974
United Kingdom World Cup1982
Yugoslavia World Cup 1994
France World Cup 1994
Germany World Cup 2002
Holland World Cup 2002
USA World Cup 2010
If Ronaldo and Messi played for Australia in 2006
Brazil 1982 with Careca,etc
Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined Team 1986 World Cup
Yugoslavia World Cup 2018

The German national team reached the Final of the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan/Korea before losing to Ronaldo's Brazil.  The result was considered to be remarkable, given that the period between 1998 and 2006 was considered to be the dark age for German football.  Germany suffered a 5-1 defeat by England at hime during the World Cup Qualifiers. They also did poorly in the European Championship of 2000 and 2004.  By 2005, the Germans were not optimistic about Germany's chance at the upcoming World Cup Finals, played at home.
Germany lost 1-5 to England at home
Was Germany really lucky to reach the 2002 Finals? Actually, Germany was unlucky to lose many players before the World Cup Finals.  Turkey who reached the semi-final fielded several German-born players.  Croatia also had several German-born players.  Meanwhile, Sebestian Deisler and Mehmet Scholl also suffered injuries before the Finals while the best German player of the generation Stefan Effenberg was not playing for the national team. 

What if they all played for Germany? In a "German" perfect world, Germany could actually field a much better team in 2002.

Players dropped from the original squad
Frank Baumann, Marko Rehmer, Lars Ricken, Gerald Asamoah, Sebestian Kehl, Jörg Böhme, Jens Jeremies.

Players Added
Robert Kovac (Croatia), Robert Prosinecki (Croatia),  Yıldıray Baştürk (Turkey), Ümit Davala (Turkey), Sebestian Diesler (Injured), Mehmet Scholl (Injured ) and Stefan Effenberg (who refused to play for Germany).

In the actual World Cup Finals, Germany were a seeded team and finished first in their Group.  An improved German team would not have helped them much in the bracket.  They would have played the same team in the knockoff stage.  This imaginary German national team won't make any difference until the Final.  Brazil with Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos might still be too strong for them. Furthermore, Ballack, Scholl, Effenberg, Prosinecki and Baştürk played in the same position.  They could not play together.  

GK: Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich)
Kahn is one of the most successful German players in recent history.  For Bayern Munich, he won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, both achieved in 2001. For Germany, his heroic performance helped Germany to finish 2nd at Korea/Japan 2002.  He was the Gold Ball winner in that World Cup Finals.   
Oliver Kahn 
GK: Jens Lehmann  (Borussia Dortmund)
Jens Lehmann  was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and was selected for three World Cup squads. He was a member of Arsenal's Invincibles, playing every match of their famous unbeaten title winning season. He also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets, having not conceded a goal in 10 matches whilst at Arsenal.

GK: Hans Jörg Butt  (Bayer Leverkusen)
Known for taking penalty kicks, Hans Jörg Butt scored 26 goals in the Bundesliga. He played for Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in his country.  During his career, Butt scored three times from the penalty spot against Juventus with three clubs. He had 4 caps.  He represented Germany as a backup keeper in both 2002 and 2010 World Cup Finals and Euro 2000. He made a single appearance in 2010.

RB/RW: Ümit Davala  (AC Milan) * new player
Born in Germany, Ümit Davala played mainly in Turkey before joining Galatasaray in 1996. He was a part of their UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup winning team in 2000.  He also had stints with both AC Milan and Inter Milan, but never played a single game for Inter Milan.  He was capped 41 times for Turkey between 1996 and 2004. He was on the squad of Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup.

CB: Christoph Metzelder (Borussia Dortmund)
In 2000 he signed with Borussia Dortmund from lowly SC Preußen Münster.  In 2007, he joined Real Madrid.  His career was marked with constant injuries.  He never settled down. He later played with Schalke 04.  At the international level, he played 47 times for Germany. In 2002, he starred at the World Cup Finals, winning the UEFA Bravo Award for the best young player in Europe.  Unfortunately, injuries prevented him to become a star player after 2002.
Christoph Metzelder 
CB: Thomas Linke (Bayern Munich)
Thomas Linke was remembered as a hard-nosed tackler with tremendous heading ability.  He started his career in East Germany. He played in 13 Bundesliga seasons in representation of Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich, totaling 340 games.  Having gained his first cap for Germany in his late 20's, Linke went on to represent the nation in the World Cup in 2002 and one European Championship in 2000. He had 43 caps from 1997 and 2004.

CB: Carsten Ramelow (Bayer Leverkusen)
Known for his tough tackling and defensive positioning, Ramelow played professionally for Hertha BSC (1991-1995) and Bayer Leverkusen (1996 to 2008), during a 17 year career. For Germany, he played 46 times.  He represented the nation at the 2002 World Cup, where Germany reached the final against Brazil.  He was an unused sub at the European Championship in 2000. 

CB: Robert Kovac (Bayern Munich) * new player
Born in West Germany, Robert Kovac represented Croatia in two World Cup Finals: 2002 and 2006, and has also participated at two European Championships: 2004 and 2008. His brother Niko played with him on the national team as well as his club career.  He was the captain of the national team after his brother Niko retired.  He played a few of the biggest clubs in the world, notably with Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Juvnetus.  
Robert Kovac
LW: Christian Ziege (Tottenham Hotspurs)
Ziege started his playing career at Bayern Munich, where he won two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Cup before moving to A.C. Milan. He later played for Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs and Borussia Mönchengladbach. He played 72 times for Germany, winning Euro 1996.  He attended all major tournaments during this period.

DM: Dietmar Hamann (Liverpool)
Throughout his career, Dietmar Hamann has played for Bayern Munich, Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Manchester City.  He played 59 times for Germany between 1997 and 2006, and represented his nation in two World Cups and two European Championships, reaching the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final. 

CM/DM: Torsten Frings (Werder Bremen)
Frings was remembered for his career with his two stints with Werder Brenen, but also played for Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Toronto FC.  He was capped 79 times.  He played in both 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals as well as Euro 2008 and 2004. He was suspended for the semi-final of the World Cup Finals against Italy after he received a controversial ban after involving in a brawl against Argentina in the quarterfinal.
Torsten Frings 
CM: Bernd Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen)
Nicknamed Schnix by fans and teammates, Schneider started out at his hometown club Carl Zeiss Jena and made a name for himself during his decade-long stint at Bayer Leverkusen. He earned the nickname "The White Brazilian" for his dribbling and passing skills as well as his accurate free kicks and corners.  Capped 81 times.  He was a key player at the WC Finals in 2006.

CM: Stefan Effenberg (Bayern Munich) * new player
Stefan Effenberg started his career with Borussia Moncehngladbach before moving to Bayern Munich in 1990 and then, in Fiorentina in 1992.  His most successful club career came during his second stint with Bayern Munich. He helped the club to reach the Final of the Champions' League twice, winning the one in 2001.  For Germany, he was only capped 35 times.  His career was cut short after the "giving a finger" incident during the World Cup Finals in 1994.   

CM: Yıldıray Baştürk (Bayer Leverkusen) * new player
Born in Germany of Turkish ancestry, Yıldıray Baştürk is best remembered for his most successful years at Bayer Leverkusen. In 2002, he was the playmaker of a great Leverkusen that finished second in the German league, the German Cup and the Champions League Final.  That same year, he led Turkey to the semi-final of the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea. He had 49 caps in total. He also played for Wattenscheid 09, VfL Bochum, Hertha BSC, VfB Stuttgart and English club Blackburn Rovers.
Yıldıray Baştürk 
RW: Sebestian Deisler (Hertha Berlin) * new player
Deisler once hailed as the future of German football at the turn of the millennium, but injuries and depression prevented him for fulfilling his promises. He started with Borussia Mönchengladbach and moved to Hertha Berlin in 1999.  In 2002, he joined Bayern Munich, but his career was derailed by injuries. He retired in 2007. At the international level, he played 35 times for Germany.  he played all three matches at Euro 2000.

LW: Marco Bode (Wender Bremen) 
Between 1989 and 2002 he was active in 379 games for Werder, in which he scored 101 goals, making him the record Bremen goal-scorer. Despite some offers by major European clubs such as Bayern Munich, he remained loyal to Werder Bremen, retiring somewhat early after the 2002 World Cup. Bode also won renown because he was a particularly fair and decent player who only was booked ten times in his entire Bundesliga career and never got sent off. 

AM/CM: Michael Ballack (Bayer Leverkusen)
Born in East Germany, Michael Ballack was the best German player of his generation. first made his name with Bayer Leverkusen, helping them to the Final of the Champions' League in 2002. On the same summer, he helped Germany reaching the Final of Japan/Korea 2002.  He moved to Bayern Munich after the WC Finals.  he also played for Chelsea before his retirement.
Michael Ballack
AM: Robert Prosinecki (Portsmouth) * new player
Robert Prosinecki was considered one of the most talented players from Yugoslavia in the 1990's.  In 1987, Prosinečki was named the tournament's best player as Yugoslavia won the World Youth Championship.  He then played for Yugoslavia at the 1990 World Cup and for Croatia at Euro 96 and the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.  For his club career, he played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, but he failed to establish himself at neither club.

AM: Mehmet Scholl (Bayern Munich) * new player
Mehmet Scholl was born in Germany of Turkish hertiage.  He started with Karlsruher, but spent almost hs entire career with Bayern Munich.  He won the Bundesliga title 8 times and the Champions' league n 2001.  He was the hero of the 1996 UEFA Cup win, scoring a goal each of the legs. Injuries has limited his career with the national team.  He never played in any of the World Cup Finals.

ST: Carsten Jancker  (Bayern Munich) 
Carsten Jancker played between 1993 and 2009 for various teams including FC Köln, Rapid Wien, FC Bayern Munich, Udinese Calcio, FC Kaiserslautern, Shanghai Shenhua F.C., and SV Mattersburg. Jancker's time at Bayern between 1996 and 2002 was the best period of his career, a spell which included four Bundesliga titles and victory in the 2001 UEFA Champions League. He was capped 33 times for Germany.
Carsten Jancker 
ST: Oliver Bierhoff (Monaco)
Biefhoff scored the first golden goal in the history of major international football, for Germany in the Euro 96 final. The goal defined his career. He played 70 times for Germany between 1996 and 2002.  He also played in Euro 2000, and both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He was a later bloomer.  He was playing in Austria and Italy's Serie B until at the age 27 when he joined Udinese.  He would later star for AC Milan.

ST: Olivier Neuville (Bayer Leverkusen)
Born in Swizterland to a German father and an Italian mother, Neuville played club football in Switzerland and Spain until 1997.  In Germany, he played for Hansa Rostock, Bayer Lverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach. At the international level, he played 69 times for Germany. He attended the World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006 as well as the Euro 2008.

ST: Miroslav Klose (Kaiserslautern)
Miroslav Klose is best known for his performances with the German national team. He was part of the German squad that won the 2014 World Cup.  He is the top goalscorer in the history of the World Cup, having scored 16 goals. Klose is also the top scorer of all time for Germany. He spent most of his career playing in Germany, but played in Italy at the end of his career. He was born in Poland of German ethnicity. His father was capped by Poland.
Miroslav Klose 

Players considered
Ilhan Mansiz, Niko Kovac, Owen Hargreaves.

Squad Expaination
-- I dropped Frank Baumann, Marko Rehmer, Lars Ricken, Gerald Asamoah, Sebestian Kehl, Jörg Böhme and Jens Jeremies from the actual 2002 team.  Jeremies is the only player who had a big role in the real-life World Cup Finals.
-- I added two German-born Croat Robert Kovac and Robert Prosinecki and two German-born Turks, Yıldıray Baştürk and Ümit Davala.  They all played in the WC Finals.  I brought back two injured German stars Sebestian Diesler and Mehmet Scholl.  Stefan Effenberg also retuned to the national team after 8 years. This is an imaginey scenario.  So anything can happen.
-- Germany lacked a natural righback during the World Cup Finals. Rudi Voller used Frings as a rightback in some of the matches.
Ümit Davala would have solved his problem.  He was a key player for Galatasaray's UEFA Cup winning team.  By 2002, he was an established player in Europe.
-- Yıldıray Baştürk was one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga.  With this national team, he would be reunited with his club teammates Ballack, Neuville, Schneider, Ramelow and Butt.  
-- In real life, an injury prevented Mehmet Scholl from going the World Cup.  If he was not injured, he would have played.  The same applied to Sebestian Diesler who secured a transfer to Bayern Munich bright before the Finals. Diesler was still considered to be the next big one.
-- Owen Hargreaves estalblished himself at Bayern Munich and he was eligible to play for Germany.  However, he would have chosen to play for England.  The other players selected here were all German-born.  Hargreaves was born in Canada.  
-- Robert Prosinecki returned to Croatia at age of 10. I doubt that he would have considred playing for Germany at any point in his life.  However, unlike Hargreaves, he was still born in Germany. In end, I put him into the team just for fun.
-- In 2002, Robert Prosinecki was at the end of his career.  He played well with Portsmouth the season before the World Cup Finals.  The same applied to Effenberg who was also at the very end of his career.  Given their reputation, both players would have gone to the World Cup Finals.
-- Niko Kovac was with Bayern Munich, but he had difficulties getting minutes for the club.  His brother Robert, however, was starting for Bayern Munich.  So Robert made the team.
-- Ilhan Mansiz was the top scorer in the Turkish league in 2001-2002 season.  In the actual World Cup Finals, he scored a herotic goal against Senegal.  However, he never had any career in Germany. In another words, he was unknown outside of Turkey before the World Cup Finals.  I seriously doubted that he would be going to the Finals if he chose to play for Germany.
-- Cha-Du-Ri of South Korea was born in Germany while his father Cha Bum-Kun was playing in the Bundesliga.  His father was the manager of the South Korean national team at this World Cup Finals.  He would have chosen South Korea.

This formation is similar to the one used by Bayer Leverkusen against Real Madrid in the Champions' league Final, but I played Ballack out of position.  Deisler would take over Bernd Schneider's role.  Five new players made the starting lineup.  Mehmet Scholl would probably be an impact player as well.