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Spot My Team at Euro 2016: Germany National Football Team

Phil P.I am Phil P. and I've been a supporter of Bayern since 2006 and the German national team since shortly thereafter. I started Bundesligarama in 2013, after writing about FC Bayern, Die Nationalelf, and German football for several other places previously. I've been a big fan of the German side and of Joachim Löw for years, and watched every minute of Germany's glorious 2014 World Cup win. You can check out all of my German national-team related posts using the tag "International" on my site www.bundesligarama.com. I am on twitter, too. 
Germany FlagMost people probably don't need much introduction to the German Nationalelf, who have been one of the best sides in the world for nearly a century. Germany's national team have won the World Cup four times and the European Championships three. Given their deep pool of talent and their great coaching staff, the Germans will be contenders in any tournament they enter for the foreseeable future. 
In the Euros, though, Germany have actually suffered some recent heartbreak. In 2008, Fernando Torres crushed our dreams, and in 2012 we saw the whole team collapse in the semis vs. Italy. Of course, given the glorious World Cup title in 2014, it's hard to look at this summer’s tournament as "redemption," but hoisting that trophy would still be nice.

The qualification campaign for this tournament was pretty much a repeat of every qualification campaign in the Joachim Löw era: eventually qualifying (and even winning the group), but with a handful of poor performances that give observers reason to complain. In this case, it was a 0-2 loss to Poland and a 0-1 loss to Ireland, which left Die Mannschaft needing a last-round win just to clinch a spot.

The loss to Poland was not as worrying (the Bia?e Or?y are actually a really good team). But the loss to Ireland, in a game where Germany really needed a win and seemed to be taking the game seriously, revealed some problems. Since the 2014 World Cup campaign, Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker have all retired. There are still numerous options going forward, but the back line has made stupid errors on several occasions and doesn't leave anyone full of confidence.

Still, Jogi Löw has earned a long leash. The German coach is Joachim Löw, Germany national team coachone of the best in the business. He has a good enough command of tactics, he responds to injuries and suspensions by plugging in new players effectively, and he seemed to control the team well in Brazil as far as unity and motivation. There are always complainers, but I don't think anyone can seriously say that a replacement would surely do a better job.

As far as the players, it’s hard to know exactly who will carry the heavy load this summer, especially offensively. Germany's ethic doesn't really promote "superstars." The midfield and defensive play are all about effort and teamwork, and even on the offensive end, it could be anyone doing the scoring on any given day. If we had to pick a superstar, I'd go with FC Bayern forward Thomas Müller. The young Weilheimer has emerged as one of the most potent scoring threats in the world. At just 26 years old, Müller has scored 31 international goals for Germany to go along with over 150 for Bayern.

But goal-scoring aside, Tommy has an incredibly intelligent tactical approach to the game. He can work in tight areas with very little space, which makes him difficult to mark even for a defender who's right on his hip. And he can pass with excellent accuracy, can play on either side or in the center channel, and always seems to come up big when Bayern or Germany need him.

In terms of tactics, you can expect Germany to line up in a standard 4-2-3-1, with two central midfielders behind for forwards. But depending upon how the midfield works out, it’s likely that one of those central midfielders will play like a true midfield general, while the other presses forward in more of a 4-1-4-1. The exception would be when both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are both on the pitch, which could happen against the more dangerous opponents. In that scenario, Germany will have more of a true double-pivot.

Thomas Müller, Germany and Bayern leaderUp top, Germany might actually play some of the tournament without a true striker on the pitch. Either Mario Götze, Andre Schürrle or the afore-mentioned Thomas Müller would be the forward most player (all technically midfielders by trade). Considering the overall speed and ball skill, creating scoring chances shouldn’t be an issue even without a genuine target man.  Former Bayern man Mario Gomez is on the roster, and could play a role, but my suspicion is that Germany go “no striker” and maximize speed and overlapping runs with four attacking midfielders.

Germany’s Euro campaign will kick off against Ukraine, who are captained by charismatic ex-Bayern man Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. The Ukrainians have a handful of decent scoring options, and they looked respectable in a hard-fought 0-1 loss to Spain in October. Let’s be honest, though – Germany would be disappointed with anything short of a decisive victory here.

Poland will be up next, and they have bedeviled Germany recently. Their 2:0 victory over Die Nationalelf in late 2014 set the qualifying campaign off to a bad start. Germany made up for it with a good run that saw five straight wins, but Poland are still dangerous. Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski and former Dortmund winger Kuba B?aszczykowski are the biggest threats.

The group stage will conclude with Germany facing Northern Ireland, an international match-up that hasn’t been seen in a decade. When the groups were first drawn, I thought, “cool, I wonder what Germany will do to stop Gareth Bale.” Then I looked it up and found out he’s from Wales, not Northern Ireland.  Which had me looking at my computer like “oh, come on, man - I thought that was the same thing!”

Yeah, you heard me.

Even the most pessimistic supporter will agree that this Germany side has a wealth of talent. Speed on the flanks is not a concern, with some combination of Mario Götze, Andre Schürrle, Julian Draxler, and young prodigy Leroy Sané on hand. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are excellent midfield options who can pass, tackle, and make life tough for opponents (though the absence of Ilkay Gündogan due to injury will hurt).  

In goal, Manuel Neuer is a huge asset to have. In fact, there’s a good chance Germany would never have won the 2014 World Cup without him. You don’t want to be too reliant on your ‘keeper, but if we need a guy between the sticks to pop up and make one or two amazing saves, Neuer is the one you want.

All things considered, this is probably the most talented and deepest team in the tournament. At the very least, Germany have to be considered joint favorites.
There are possible weaknesses, though. Since Philipp Lahm’s retirement, the defense has been a bit off-kilter. It hasn’t been helped by injuries, line-up shuffling, and a hole at the right-back position. Jérôme Boateng is an excellent defender when he’s healthy, but Mats Hummels has slipped a bit from his best-in-the-world days. And Holger Badstuber couldn’t get back from injury in time.

The defense is not terrible, it’s just a little more likely to give up a soft goal than we’d prefer. So that’s always in the back of Germany’s supporters’ minds. 
Predictions? Well, I’ll go ahead and predict Germany 2014 World Champions Germanyto win the tournament. That doesn’t mean I think the team is infallible, though, as there are weakness. Several other sides that could easily have a better time of it, if they catch us on a bad day. France (helped by the home crowds) will certainly be dangerous. Belgium have a great roster full of young, fast, explosive players. Spain were poor in 2014, but you can’t overlook them considering their three previous tournaments.

And for a dark-horse pick, I think Hungary will also surprise some people. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and predict Hungary to be the surprise team of the tournament and to make a run to at least the quarterfinals.  

For the Final, we’ll go with Germany beating France in a match that’s rich with historical symbolism that I probably shouldn’t get into right now. But that’s pretty much true of Germany vs. anybody, right? Thanks for reading.


Physical attributes


Technical attributes

ball control
free kicks
long throws
shooting accuracy
shooting power
slide tackle
stand tackle
aerial control
one on ones
off the area
penalty saving

Mental attributes

tactical awareness
work rate
positioning in the line
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