We’re less than two days away from the first day of the 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup (March 16th-17th on Trackwrestling.com) and one more roster deserves your attention — Germany’s. The German team does not appear all that strong this time around, but if you look at the list of names who are (already) in Abadan, Iran, you might come away fairly confident they can put together a representative effort. Don’t misunderstand: Germany’s chances of actually winning this thing are next to zero. It would take a multitude of injuries, questionable calls, and Herculean performances for Germany to escape Group A, where Russia and Iran reside.
The thing is, Germany might have had a shot to make a little noise if 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Denis Kudla (85 kg, world no. 3) was in the mix, which according to the latest roster update, he isn’t. Kudla just wrestled (and won) at Thor Masters in Denmark on March 4th, so his exclusion from the roster was decided before that even happened. The 22-year old would have provided a nice bridge between the solid veteran Pascal Eisele (80 kg, world no. 9) and 2012 Junior World silver medalist Peter Oehler (98 kg). But that isn’t how it’s going down. Instead, Ramsin Azizsir is taking over at 85 and while Azizsir is certainly worthy of a spot in the lineup, Kudla’s presence would have added both depth and flexibility Germany could have played with in some match-ups.
That being said, what you have here isn’t bad. Three-time Thor Masters champ Erik Weiss checks in at 66 kilograms (US fans might be familiar with him — Sammy Jones defeated Weiss in Denmark) and offers a well-rounded attack. Timo Badusch (71 kg, world no. 17) won’t be expected to save the day, but he might be able to provide some points, considering 71 isn’t a preeminent strength for the rest of the teams in Group A.
Germany’s biggest strengths can be found in the last two weight classes. The aforementioned Oehler is someone everyone knows, but we can’t forget about Oliver Hassler. Hassler is a rough customer who smashed expectations in 2014 when he took silver at the Worlds. He also went on to win the World Military Championships less than a month after that. Outside of the 2nd OG Qualifier, Hassler didn’t see a lot of matches in 2016, so it is presumed Oehler would be the number one choice here. But if he’s sharp and ready to go, Hassler could deliver some dynamics Germany will absolutely need if team scores remain tight enough.
Anchoring the whole deal is Eduard Popp (130 kg, world no. 6). Popp had a nice run in Rio, falling short in the bronze medal round to Sabah Shariati (AZE, world no. 4), but he’s away in Group B. In Group A, Popp will likely have to contend with the likes of Sergey Semenov (RUS, world no. 3) or Amir Ghasemi (IRI).
German Roster for the 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup
Erik Weiss (Three-time Thor Masters gold medalist, 2013 Haavisto Cup gold medalist)
Timo Badusch (2017 Thor Masters gold medalist)
Maximillian Schwabe (2016 Grand Prix of Germany gold medalist)
Florian Neumaier (2014 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup silver medalist)
Pascal Eisele (2016 World Military Championships gold medalist, 2016 Grand Prix of Paris gold medalist)
Ramsin Azizsir (2014 World Military Championships gold medalist, 2016 Thor Masters silver medalist, 2016 Grand Prix of Germany silver medalist)
Oliver Hassler (2008 Junior World bronze medalist, 2014 World Military Championships gold medalist)
Peter Oehler (2012 Junior World silver medalist, 2015 Ion Corneanu Memorial gold medalist)
Eduard Popp (2016 Olympian, 2010 Junior World bronze medalist, 2016 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup gold medalist, 2016 Thor Masters gold medalist)
Christian John (2012 Junior European Championships gold medalist, 2016 U23 European Championships bronze medalist, 2017 Thor Masters silver medalist)