Euro 2012 Preview: Germany
Three World Cups, three European Championships and one of the best national teams to play the game. They really don’t need an introduction but as I have to write one I’ll do it. An exciting German side finished third at the last World Cup after bringing through a number of promising young players. Those players have since got matured and got better, and new ones have been added to the mix.
How Did They Qualify?
At an absolute canter. Ten games, ten wins, maximum points and 13 points ahead of second placed Turkey. They averaged a tad over three goals a game and conceded just seven. It’s a record that would scare any opponents.
Joachim Löw, the best Joachim in football since Julian. Jogi has been in the German set up since Jürgen Klinsmann took the reins in 2004. After Klinsmann stepped down after the semi-final defeat in 2006 Low took over as head coach with the aim to continue the good work and progress the side had been making since 2004. Finalists in 2008 and semi -finalists in 2012 losing both times to eventual winners Spain has shown how well Low has done and that they will be contenders this time around.
Lukas Podolski – 26 – Striker
95 caps and 43 goals, an average of almost one in two, is an amazing record for any player at international record, let alone a 26 year old. It’s likely that Arsenal’s new signing will reach 100 caps during the tournament. Capable of playing anywhere across the attack in a 4-2-3-1, Podolski will be a constant goal threat and is also worth a few assists. Podolski scored 18 goals for relegated Koln this season.
Manuel Neuer – 26 – Goalkeeper
The role of German national ‘keeper and Bayern Munich’s goalie were big gloves to fill after Oliver Kahn decided to pack it in and Neuer has stepped into both admirably. He has 25 caps now but came to be first choice in both tragic and fortunate circumstances. Robert Enke’s tragic death moved him to second choice and an injury to Rene Adler moved him into the first team. Since then, he has been solid for Bayern and Germany. He can also take a good penalty as shown in the Champions League. Interesting fact – once won half a million Euros for charity on Germany’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Mats Hummels – 23 – Defender
Only 13 caps but Hummels has been an integral part of the Borrusia Dortmund defence that has won the Bundesliga for the last two seasons. With the exception of Per Mertersacker, there aren’t many caps among the German backline but all have had relative success at club level, and Hummels is probably the most successful.
How Far Can They Go?
All the way. Germany are one of the favourites and rightly so. They are in a tricky group with Holland, Portugal and Denmark but they are capable of beating all of those sides. With the Spanish not looking as formidable as two years ago Germany will fancy their chances and rightly so.