Dietmarr Hamann believes that Germany’s World Cup hopes rest on the shoulders of Bastian Schweinsteiger who he describes as the ‘heartbeat of the team’.
The Bayern Munich midfielder has been absent for stretches of 2013-14 through injury but recovered fitness in time to be part of Joachim Low’s squad in Brazil.
He started his country’s games against Portugal and Ghana on the bench, but returned to help them secure top spot in Group G against the USA on Thursday and Hamann has hailed the 29-year-old as a key part of the Mannschaft set-up and doubts they can win the World Cup without him in top form.
“Schweinsteiger has been the heartbeat of the team and still is,” he said. “He’s had quite a few injuries, he missed the last part of last season through injury but if Germany are to win the World Cup, it depends on him. He can make the difference. They won’t win the World Cup without Schweinsteiger in top form.
“Schweinsteiger is the one that connects defence and attack. The midfield is the strongest part of the team without a doubt.
“As I have said before, they have a chance to go all the way. But we don’t know if he’s in tip-top condition. If he’s fit, they have a chance to win. If not, they won’t.”
Mesut Ozil has been a prominent member of Germany’s starting line-up in the first two games and Hamann expects the Arsenal midfielder to build on his recent performances to return to his best.
“I think Ozil did well so far,” he added. “He played well in the first game, I was a bit surprised he was taken off. He’s one of the ones that needs game time the most. He’s back to the form when he burst on to the scene. There will be bigger tests to come in the knockout stages when the stakes are higher. He still as to prove himself but so far, so good.”
Contrastingly, Miroslav Klose has been a peripheral figure in Brazil, though he came off the bench to score the equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Ghana at the weekend.
Hamann suspects that his former Germany team-mate will remain on the fringes of the squad, with Thomas Muller leading the line as the main forward.
But he believes Klose can be a threat as a substitute throughout the World Cup: “Going forwards Germany have only got Klose as a striker – but Muller’s done well” he continued.
“I think the best team at the moment is with Muller at top. He can play the forward, he’s very quick, he goes in behind the defensive line.
“Klose can be an impact player, we saw what he could do against Ghana. They’ll keep him as fresh as possible – he’s 36 now, he can’t play every four or five days if they are to win the World Cup.”