Turbulent times threaten Germany's World Cup prep

Turbulent times threaten Germany's World Cup prep

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
Turbulent times threaten Germanys World Cup prep

Police close a road following an accident near the German team’s camp in San Martino. AFP photo

Germany's World Cup preparation has been hit by a week of turbulence in which a car crash, injuries, a scandal and a driving ban have all caused disruption.

Head coach Joachim Löw took his squad to a luxury, five-star hotel in south Tirol's St. Leonhard for 10 days to prepare his stars for their World Cup Group G campaign, which starts on June 16 against Portugal in Salvador.

Yet a series of unfortunate incidents have left some squad members seeking the services of the team's sports psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann.

Defender Kevin Grosskreutz caused a scandal just before the camp started by urinating in the foyer of a Berlin hotel after the German Cup final, the same match where captain Philipp Lahm and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer picked up worrying injuries.

Löw was also hit with a six-month driving ban as the German Football Association (DFB) daily press conferences became an exercise in damage limitation.

But the worst was still to come on May 27 when a 63-year-old German was seriously injured after being hit by a car driven by professional touring car racer Pascal Wehrlein, 19, with Germany defender Benedikt Höwedes as his passenger.

Höwedes ‘shocked’

A steward was also hurt in the accident during the Mercedes sponsored event, which included Formula One star and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg, on the grounds of the team hotel.

The product presentation, which had allowed Germany's World Cup stars to hitch a ride with professional drivers, quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for both Mercedes and the DFB.
“Of course, the situation was a shock for me,” the 26-year-old Höwedes said after the crash. “The images will stay in my head for a long time.”

The car crash grabbed the headlines in the German media, overshadowing the good news on May 27 that Lahm put in his first 25 minutes of training since an ankle knock in the German Cup final 10 days ago.

But Neuer's shoulder injury looks to be a real concern and he is doubtful for weekend’s friendly against Cameroon in Mönchengladbach.

“It will take a while before Manu's shoulder can really be tested, I am not counting on an appearance from him here (in the training camp),” admitted Bierhoff.

The German squad had arrived in south Tirol last week with a cloud over Grosskreutz after Borussia Dortmund reportedly fined him 60,000 euros for urinating in the reception of a high-class Berlin hotel.

According to reports, police had to be called after the Germany star argued with fellow guests in the early hours following his side's German Cup final loss to Bayern Munich the night before.

“I'm sorry, I had a black-out,” a sheepish Grosskreutz told German daily Bild.

His coach Löw said the matter was closed, ony for the 54-year-old to then have to defend himself after it emerged he had collected 18 points in driving infringements -- earning him a ban.