Germany will feel the loss of Sami Khedira more keenly than Real Madrid

The holding midfielder was one of only a few guaranteed a place in the starting line-up

Before 2010, it was the loss of Michael Ballack that shocked Germany. Kevin Prince Boateng’s horror foul in the FA Cup Final brought an end to Ballack’s World Cup dream and, ultimately, his international career. Joachim Löw swiftly drafted in a replacement in the form of a young VfB Stuttgart midfielder by the name of Sami Khedira. No disrespect to him, said Germany, but Ballack he ain’t, and the World Cup he won’t win.

Khedira, at least in the first of those charges, proved them wrong. He shone immediately, and became a key part of the team who only faltered in the final ten minutes of their semi final against Spain. Since then, he has been as irreplaceable as Ballack was then.

Now, history is repeating itself. For a mere seven months before Löw’s side get underway in Brazil, the Real Madrid star has torn the cruciate ligament in his right knee. His club may have seen fit to send two doctors to Augsburg to assist with the operation, but it is his country who will miss him the most keenly should the worst case scenario be realised.

Alongside Phillipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Mesut Özil, Khedira is one of only a handful of players whose selection has been absolutely guaranteed in this so talented of Germany sides. His assumption of the Ballack role was made complete at Euro 2012, when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s fitness first came into serious question. Since then, it has been Khedira, not his usual partner in defensive midfield, who has been the heartbeat of Löw’s team.

It is for that reason that Löw identified Khedira’s injury, sustained in the 65 minute of his side’s 1-1 draw with Italy on Friday, as “the worst I have seen since I took over in 2004”. Worse than Ballack’s, worse than Rene Adler’s at the same time, and worse, of course, than Schweinsteiger’s perpetual niggles.

Where Ballack could be replaced – albeit with a certain leap of faith – by Khedira, and Adler’s injury made way for the now unchallengeable Manuel Neuer, Khedira is a problem less easily solved. For all the criticism that Joachim Löw has had to endure in view of his team’s defensive shortcomings, the defensive midfield has generally been the least of his worries. Now that looks set to change.

It is not that he lacks options. If Schweinsteiger – only last week on the operating table – is fit, then he can come in. But the consecutive injuries he has strung together have reduced his aura as a leading player. Toni Kroos, meanwhile, has barely played as a holding player for club or country since making the switch back to attack last season. Ilkay Gündogan has also missed most of this season so far through injury. Yes, there are Sven and Lars Bender, both of whom play in that role for their respective clubs, but there is nobody who offers the security and consistency of Khedira. 

The operation in Augsburg was, reportedly, a success, and the Germany team doctor Hans Müller-Wohlfahrt declared at the weekend that “there is some hope of him playing at the World Cup”. Löw was more philosophical, referring to the fact that “Sami has a fighting spirit and always thinks positively. That will help him.”

No one, however, has yet been able or brave enough to put a real estimate on the length of time that Germany will have to do without Khedira. It is, after all, a potentially career ending injury, and in that respect, losing the player for the World Cup is hardly the worst outcome possible. But it is an eventuality for which Germany is now glumly preparing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game