UEFA World Cup qualifying preview: Kazakhstan v Germany
By Football News
Kazakhstan will have a point to prove in World Cup qualifying on Friday, after Joachim Loew questioned their right to compete with Germany.
In an interview with Kicker magazine, Germany coach Loew said he doubted if it 'made sporting sense' for the major European nations to play against minnows like 'Kazakhstan, Andorra, San Marino or the Faroe Islands'.
Loew's comments are not the first time senior figures from German football have flagged concepts such as pre-qualifying for low-ranked nations, a suggestion intended to reduce uncompetitive UEFA fixtures.
German Football Federation president Wolfgang Niersbach has been quoted as saying the objections expressed by Loew have no chance of being acted on by European football's governing body.
While Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands may object to being discriminated against, results do not make a convincing case in their defence.
Germany top Group C of UEFA qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with three wins from four attempts.
Kazakhstan, who host Germany in Astana on Friday before making the trip to Nuremberg for the return fixture four days later, are second-to-last in the group, with just one point from a possible 12.
The Faroe Islands meanwhile are bottom, with nothing to show from three matches played.
Germany will be without injured players Sven and Lars Bender and Toni Kroos for the two matches, but even with those absentees, they are still likely to prove far too strong for Kazakhstan, home and away.
The most recent outing for Loew's men saw them record a 2-1 friendly victory over France, their first against their neighbours and rivals for 26 years.
While Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez is arguably the only dedicated striker in Loew's squad, the coach has an embarrassment of riches to choose from in attacking midfield roles.
Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus and Mario Goetze, Bayern's Thomas Mueller, Bayer Leverkusen youngster Andre Schurrle, Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski and Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Oezil all have a legitimate claim to a starting berth.
Further back, expect Real's Sami Khedira and Bayern stalwart Bastian Schweinsteiger to anchor midfield.
Kazakhstan's last fixture saw them beat Moldova 3-1 away from home, Baurzhan Dzholchiev netting a brace in that friendly win.
But damage control will surely be the extent of Czech coach Miroslav Beranek's ambitions when he sends his team out to face FIFA's second-ranked nation.