Kazakh artificial pitch raises German alarm bells
The Germans have had some recent experience on artificial grass, beating Kazakhstan in the Euro 2012 qualifiers and Russia in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers but for both matches their preparation was less than perfect.
"Against Russia the artificial pitch we trained on [in Mainz, Germany] ahead of the game was different than the one in Moscow. Now we have tried to find the same conditions," Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick told reporters on Tuesday.
"In Frankfurt there is a very similar pitch and it is something we have accepted for this game and are happy to be training here for that."
Germany will be looking to lock in all six points in their away and home qualifiers against Kazakhstan on March 22 and 26 to retain their lead at the top of 2014 World Cup qualifying Group C.
Germany are top on 10 points from four games after spectacularly squandering a 4-0 lead at home to Sweden in October to draw 4-4 and stay three points clear of their rivals. Sweden have seven from three games.
"In past games the pitch was always different from what we had trained on and it is good to get used to the artificial pitch in advance," said central defender Per Mertesacker.
"We won the last game in Kazakhstan but it was still difficult, also because of the pitch. Technically we have to be spot on."
Germany will travel with 17 in-field players to Astana but are confident their short trip to the country at the edge of Europe will be successful.
"We have a few problems still with Lukas Podolski's ankle and Bastian Schweinsteiger has some muscle issue but I hope everyone will be on the training pitch tomorrow," Flick said.
"After dropping two points against Sweden we now want all six from these two games. No doubt Kazakhstan will be compact with a well-organised defence and will wait for quick breaks to react."
Germany could start without a designated striker after calling up only Mario Gomez, with Mario Gotze a likely midfield candidate to play the forward role.
"He [Gotze] is a player who can play the ball in a tight space, even control the ball in such a way to gain an advantage. He is skilled and dangerous. This is a possibility to have him play up front," Flick said.
The 20-year-old Gotze said a well-watered artificial pitch would see Germany deploying their speed as their main weapon.
"If there are no bumps, if it is a bit wet before the game then we can play a quick tempo. We will try to play over the wings, use our pace, this will be our plan," he said.