Bayern Munich: Sandro Wagner robbed of German national team place

Germany's striker Sandro Wagner reacts during the international friendly football match between Germany and Brazil in Berlin, on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL (Photo credit should read ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany's striker Sandro Wagner reacts during the international friendly football match between Germany and Brazil in Berlin, on March 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL (Photo credit should read ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images) /

Bayern Munich striker Sandro Wagner was wrongfully denied a spot on the German national team by coach Joachim Low.

Sandro Wagner has been fantastic for Bayern Munich since making the switch from Hoffenheim in the January window. Despite playing strictly as a deputy to main man Robert Lewandowski, Wagner has still managed eight goals for the Bavarians in the ruckrunde.

Having been called up to the German national team by Jogi Low on several occasions in the past year or two, Wagner looked set to make his nation’s squad for the World Cup. The 30-year-old, after all, has worked unbelievably hard since returning to the Bundesliga. If work rate was the lone factor in determining who plays and who doesn’t, Wagner would be one of the first names on the team sheet each time Germany took the field.

Evidently, however, Sandro hasn’t quite done enough to win over Jogi Low. To the surpise of many, Wagner has been left out of Germany’s 27-man provisional squad for World Cup 2018.

Low has instead opted to feature RB Leipzig youngster Timo Werner, Freiburg star Nils Petersen and Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez in his preliminary squad. While each is well-deserving of a spot on Low’s squad by their own merit, Sandro Wagner still has the right to feel robbed of the opportunity to represent his nation on the world’s biggest stage.

Plan B

First things first, Joachim Low has a clear first choice for who will be leading the German line this summer. Unless he opts to field Thomas Muller as a lone striker to integrate two natural wingers, Timo Werner will be spearheading die Nationalmannschaft‘s attack.

The young RB Leipzig forward is Germany’s best option going forward, and any other striker on the squad will be playing second fiddle to the 22-year-old.

If only Germany had an experienced striker accustomed to playing a secondary role. . . Oh wait, they do!

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Wagner’s role at Bayern Munich is strictly as deputy to Robert Lewandowski. The Pole is among the best center-forwards in the world, meaning Wagner’s playing time is always going to be limited. And he knows that, but he doesn’t let it stop him from giving 100 percent both in training and his time on the pitch.

Sandro would offer the German national team the same fire and passion he brings each and every time he puts on the Bayern kit, whether he starts a match or comes in as a late sub. There’s hardly a better “plan B” striker than Wagner, and Germany will be all the worse without him.


Another key area where Wagner excels over Germany’s other center-forwards is his familiarity with several of Germany’s other star players. Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich and (if fit) Manuel Neuer are all guaranteed starters under Joachim Low.

What else do they have in common? They all — like Wagner — play for Bayern Munich. Wagner’s familiarity in playing with those five (not to mention Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy) should have been a big boost for Wagner.

It’s shocking that Jogi Low overlooked the harmony that club teammates can bring to a national team, both on and off the pitch.

Wagner vs. Gomez

It’s hard to be too critical of Low’s decision to call up Freiburg’s Nils Petersen. The former Bayern forward has been a superb player for a subpar team this Bundesliga season. His 15 league goals (Freiburg as a whole only scored 32 this season) is second only to Robert Lewandowski. He deserves his spot with die Mannschaft.

Mario Gomez, on the other hand, is in the German squad simply because of his name. Gomez used to be an exciting attacking option and would have been a big boost to Germany. However, he’s no longer near his best. Gomez only managed to score in six of his 16 appearances for Stuttgart this season, grabbing eight goals total. His time with Wolfsburg was even less productive: one goal across 11 starts.

In his half-season spent in Bavaria, Sandro Wagner equaled Gomez’s goal count for the entire season. At Bayern alone, Wagner ended the campaign with eight Bundesliga goals in as many starts and an additional goal in Champions League play.

The stats don’t lie. Even without the additional reasons, Wagner was more deserved of a spot on Low’s roster. Statistically, he is the better striker than Mario Gomez.

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Joachim Low made a few other disappointing or shocking decisions in his preliminary World Cup roster (Sven Ulreich didn’t get his call up, and Mario Gotze also failed to make the cut), but none are as disappointing or even dumbfounding as his choice to leave Sandro Wagner out of the squad. No player brings the same passion from a back-up striker role. Wagner will miss out on his dream of playing in the World Cup, but it’s Germany who will be all the worse for it.