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- Euro 2012
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München), Tim Wiese (SV Werder Bremen), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96)
Defenders: Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern München), Jerome Boateng (FC Bayern München), Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gündogan (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF), Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München), Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF), Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München)
Strikers: Mario Gomez (FC Bayern München), Miroslav Klose (SS Lazio), André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln)
Germany are acknowledged to be the most successful nation to have ever participated in the UEFA European Championships, having won the trophy 3 times. They have also lost 3 finals, but for now no other nation has been able to win more than two cups. The Germans lifted the trophy in 1972, 1980 and 1996. It’s been now 16 years without winning for them, and fans hope that the team will be able to produce something special in Poland and Ukraine. After two abysmal performances in 2000 and 2004, when they failed to win a game and were out after the group stages, in 2008 Die Mannschaft reached the final only to lose to a superb Spanish side. Back then though, their group was far easier than now, as they were drawn against Croatia, Poland and Austria. In the quarter-finals they beat Portugal 3-2 in a thrilling encounter, after which they won with the same score-line against Turkey in the semis. For this year’s tournament they won all ten of their qualifying games, finishing top of their group A in front of the Turks, scoring 34 goals and conceding just 7 in the process.
Joachim Löw never made a name for himself as a great footballer, and his managing career was never spectacular until 2006. Born in 1960, he played for teams such as Freiburg, Karlsruher, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, but never won a trophy. His name became well-known to football fans and pundits in 1996, when he was appointed as manager of Stuttgart. Löw won the German cup with the team in 1997, and next season reached the final of the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup. He then managed teams in Turkey and Austria, as well as Karlsruher in Germany, before becoming assistant manager of the national side in 2004. When Jurgen Klinsmann was sacked in 2006, “Jogi” was appointed as head coach, and has achieved a second place in EURO 2008 and a third in the 2010 World Cup so far.
Likely formation: 4-5-1 or 4-3-3
While most pundits have announced that this Germany squad contains just two strikers in the faces of Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, I’m ready to argue on that one. André Schürrle is one who can play both as a forward and winger, the situation with Lukas Podolski being more or less the same. On top of that, Thomas Müller often plays up front as well, but let’s assume his natural position is midfielder.
So anyway, it seems most likely that Löw will start with 4 defenders, 3 players in the middle, two on the wings and one in attack. Will there be any tactical surprises though- we’ll find out soon.
Players to watch out for:
The Germans have one of the strongest teams in the world right now, so it’s really difficult to signal out just a couple of footballers from the squad.
However, except the usual suspects in the faces of Klose, Gomez, Schweinsteiger and Özil, watch out for the two very promising youngsters Marco Reus and Mario Götze. Those two are the future stars of German football and could potentially steal the show in Poland and Ukraine.
Players who will miss the tournament:
There aren’t any high-profile names that have been excluded from the squad due to injuries or any other unpleasant reason. Of those in the preliminary squad, Sven Bender is probably the one that deserved to go but didn’t make the final selection. Sven will be even more gutted by the fact that he won’t be able to be with his twin brother Lars, who was selected by the manager to play in the competition.
It’s a tough group to be drawn into, having to face teams such as Holland, Denmark and Portugal as early as the group stage. Germany’s results haven’t been remarkable recently as well, so could this tournament turn into a disappointment for them? Highly unlikely, especially as they will be facing their old rivals from Netherlands. So could they go all the way and win the thing? It wouldn’t be surprising, and a final against Spain seems very possible. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Had they been a bit more convincing in recent times, I would have said they’d win it surely. Now though, I think they’ll go all the way to the final and lose it.