Germany can move a step closer to Euro 2012 if they continue their 100 percent start to qualifying against Austria on Friday.Joachim Loew’s young Germany team announced themselves as a force to be reckoned at the 2010 World Cup finals, beating England and Argentina before a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals.
They continued their impressive form into qualifying for the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine, winning all five matches so far to top Group A by five points ahead of Belgium.
Turkey are six points back in third, while Friday’s opponents Austria are eight points off the pace in fourth place.
Austria have won just two matches from five and must defeat Germany at the Ernst Happel Stadium if they are to have a realistic chance of claiming second place and earning a berth at the tournament.
It will be no small task for the hosts in Vienna, but they at least come into the match in the knowledge that Germany are battling a considerable injury list.
Miroslav Klose will be unavailable after the first-choice striker suffered bruised ribs in Germany’s 2-1 friendly win over Uruguay last Friday.
With uncapped Borussia Moenchengladbach striker Marco Reus also sidelined, Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez is now Loew’s only fit out-and-out striker. Forwards Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller lead the options to offer Gomez support.
Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Borussia Dortmund’s Sven Bender are out, while Stuttgart’s Christian Traesch became the latest midfielder to be ruled out after twisting an ankle in training on Tuesday.
Bayern attacking midfielder Toni Kroos could be converted to a holding role, while Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has been passed fit after overcoming a thigh problem.
“Toni has played successfully in that position in the past,” assistant coach Hans-Dieter Flick said.
“With Sami Khedira everything is going according to plan. He trained with the football yesterday and will do it again today. As far as the injury is concerned it has healed.”
“If he is fit he will play but if we see a risk then it is also our obligation to the player, to be careful. We will know for sure if he can play after Thursday’s training.”
As for Austria, Twente striker Marc Janko is aiming to cause an upset to keep his team in with a slim chance of qualification.
“We are the clear outsiders but that also means we have nothing to lose,” Janko said.
“We want to anger our big brother and maybe it will be enough for a draw or even a sensation.”
“We are in a position where only victories will do for us right now.”