Frings ban gives Klinsmann problem for semi-final
DORTMUND, July 3 (Reuters) German preparations for tomorrow's World Cup semi-final against Italy received a significant blow with FIFA's decision to suspend Torsten Frings, the unsung hero for the hosts at this tournament.
The 29-year-old Frings, who was banned for his part in the brawl that followed the quarter-final victory over Argentina, has been the outstanding player in Germany's midfield over the first five games of the tournament.
He scored an eye-catching goal in the opening day 4-2 win over Costa Rica and has maintained a lung-bursting workrate ever since.
His best performance came against Argentina, when he snuffed out the threat of Juan Roman Riquelme with unfussy ease, and coach Juergen Klinsmann now faces a big dilemma over who should replace him.
''Torsten marked Riquelme out of the game against Argentina,'' Klinsmann said at a news conference today, when he was still expecting to be able to field Frings against the Italians.
''I hope he'll be able to do the same against Francesco Totti against Italy.'' Now that he will not be available, Klinsmann must choose between the team's ''12th man'' Tim Borowski or the more defensive Sebastian Kehl.
Neither man can provide the mix of tireless running and defensive obduracy that Frings has demonstrated.
Borowski, an excellent passer of the ball, played against Costa Rica in place of the injured Michael Ballack and if Klinsmann picks him again it will be a sign that Germany are prepared to play their usual direct, attacking game against the Italians.
Kehl, who played in two matches during Germany's run to the World Cup final four years ago, is a solid defensive midfielder who rarely ventures forward.
Above all, it will be the timing of the suspension that will cause problems for the coach.
FIFA had originally said they were taking no action against any German player but that situation changed yesterday when it received further evidence, presumably in the form of television pictures.
Germany were taking part in their final training session before the match today evening and Klinsmann will have a lot of thinking to do overnight.
Reuters SHB VV2308