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Kroos to start?

Germany boss predicts tough tussle with Austria

Four Bayern men played for Germany against the Faeroe Islands, but that number could rise to five when Joachim Löw’s team take on Austria in Vienna this Tuesday evening. Captain Philipp Lahm, keeper Manuel Neuer, Holger Badstuber and Thomas Müller appear certain to start, and they could be joined by Toni Kroos, who has shaken off a pelvic injury. “I've not decided yet, because I'm waiting for our final training session, as I want to gather my last impressions," Löw said on Monday after the squad's arrival in the Austrian capital.

For the 3–0 victory over the Faeroes, the Germany coach fielded Mario Götze in central midfield alongside regulars Sami Khedira and Mezut Ozil, but may turn to a more defensive player against the potentially dangerous Austrians. It comes down to a choice between Kroos and Leverkusen’s Lars Bender. “I'm 100 percent fit again," the FCB man confirmed via Twitter.

Options at left-back

“I don't have twin holding players, I have three central midfielders," Löw explained, “they all have to shoulder defensive duties but also make their mark in attack." The coach expects exactly the same from his full-backs. Lahm is the first name on the team sheet at right back, but Löw is still searching for a solution on the opposite flank.

He was set to field Marcel Schmelzer on the left against the Faeroes, but Badstuber came in as a late replacement for the injured Dortmund man. That is hardly a long-term solution, as the Bayern youth product is really a centre half, and Schmelzer is also fit again from his foot injury. “He's an option, but so is Badstuber," said Löw.

Respect for Austria

Regardless of the final line-up, the Germans know their second World Cup qualifier will hardly be a stroll. Löw’s team have in fact won their last five matches in Vienna, but most were fiercely contested. “The Austrians have always made life extremely difficult for us. We can expect exactly the same again, because the atmosphere in Vienna is always a bit special," noted Neuer.

“It's a game between equals," said the coach. “The Austrians are making very confident statements, and they have every right to. They're very competitive." Despite the fact the home side and coach Marcel Koller are without Bayern starlet and Austrian player of the year David Alaba, Löw urged his men to focus fully on the task. “World Cup qualifying is an endurance contest. We need to maintain our momentum in Vienna," he declared.