BERLIN // Germany’s World Cup preparations have been hit by a week of turbulence in which a car crash, injuries, a scandal and a driving ban all caused disruption.
Coach Joachim Loew took his squad to a luxury, five-star hotel in South Tirol’s St Leonhard for 10 days to prepare 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 began 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.
Loew was 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 Tuesday, when a 63-year-old German was seriously injured after being hit by a car driven by professional racer Pascal Wehrlein, 19, with Germany centre-back Benedikt Hoewedes as his passenger.
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A course steward was also hurt in the accident, which occurred during a Mercedes-sponsored event on the grounds of the team hotel and included Formula One star and Monaco Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg.
The product presentation, which allowed Germany’s World Cup stars to ride with professional drivers, turned into a public-relations nightmare for both Mercedes and the DFB.
“Of course, the situation was a shock for me,” Hoewedes, 26, said after the crash.
“The images will stay in my head for a long time. I have talked it over with the coach, the team and the backroom staff.
“My thoughts are with those injured and their families.”
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said Hoewedes and attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, who witnessed the crash, had spoken to the team’s psychologist, while the DFB are set to review future sponsors events.
Police are trying to determine how an individual could have wandered onto the private course, which was closed to all other traffic and was marshalled.
The crash grabbed headlines in the German media, overshadowing Tuesday’s good news 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 Sunday’s friendly against Cameroon in Moenchengladbach.
“It will take a while before Manu’s shoulder can really be tested,” Bierhoff said. “I am not counting on an appearance from him here.”
The German squad arrived in South Tirol last Wednesday with a cloud over Grosskreutz after Borussia Dortmund reportedly fined him €60,000 (Dh300,000) for the hotel incident.
According to reports, police were called after the German star argued with 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 blackout,” a sheepish Grosskreutz told German daily Bild.
Loew said the matter was closed, then was forced to defend himself after it emerged that he had collected 18 points in driving infringements – earning him an automatic suspension.
Worse, the timing of Low’s news came the morning of the Mercedes crash.
* Agence France-Presse
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Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM