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2. Headline number two
June 21st, 2006 1:55PM



Steel in the middle has been missing in the German lineup since Klinsmann took over two years ago. The back line has been as leaky as the stadium roof that spilled rainwater onto the field at the Confederations Cup last year, and dark mutterings were heard after Paulo Wanchope twice stormed through offside traps for goals in Germany's 4-2 opening-day win over Costa Rica.

The defense toughened up in a nervous 1-0 win over Poland and was seldom threatened by Ecuador, although Philipp Lahm, perhaps the best attacking left back in the competition of European vintage, slipped a couple of times to leave his corner exposed, and right back Arne Freidrich is not universally acclaimed.

The world knows about goalie Jens Lehmann, Ballack, Klose and Podolski and their coach, Klinsmann. But Germany's ultimate fate depends on Schneider, Metersacker, Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Frings, the supporting members in Klinsmann's cast.

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