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Euro 2012: Germany

Posted: 06/06/2012 15:48

They were runners-up at Euro 2008, and followed that up with a semi final appearance at the World Cup two years later. Now, once again one of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany are looking to do something they've not achieved since 1996: win the European Championships. Here's a profile of the squad tasked with taking the trophy home to Germany for the fourth time.

Goalkeepers

They have three in the squad, but Manuel Neuer is very clearly the number one. The Bayern-stopper cuts an imposing figure between the posts, and despite experiencing a somewhat shaky start to his career in Munich, he is not only established as first choice for both club and country, but also recognised as one the very best goalkeeper's in the world. Werder Bremen's Tim Wiese and Hannover's Ron-Robert Zieler provide solid, if unspectacular, backup.

Defenders

There's likely to be a distinct Bayern flavour to the back four, which should work well with Neuer in goal. Captain Philipp Lahm is, however, perhaps the only defender in the squad guaranteed of his place, and even then he could be used in either full back position. Jerome Boeteng is likely to get the other spot, probably at right back. The other full back options, Benedikt Howedes and Marcel Schmelzer, are both inexperienced, and haven't quite transferred their club form to international level. At centre back, it's likely to be a question of who partners Holger Badstuber. It's a straight fight between Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker, and while the former should get the nod - he's had a considerably better season, is more mobile and better on the ball - there is always a chance Joachim Low will opt for Mertesacker's experience.

Midfield

An embarrassment of riches, with only Spain being able to lay claim to having midfield options parallel to the dazzling array of stars available to Germany. A 4-2-3-1 formation is all but certain, and just as certain is that the 'two' will be the same as it was in 2010 - Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger. The energy these two provided in shielding the back four and helping the lightning fast transitions between defence and attack was vital to their success in that tournament, and so it will be again. Schweinsteiger has had injury problems this season, but remains one of the key figures for his country. In back-up, they have the youthful but talented trio of Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Lars Bender, all of whom enjoyed excellent season's at club level.

The 'three' is also likely to be unchanged from the World Cup, with Bayern's Thomas Muller on the right, Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski on the left, and Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil through the centre. Muller and Ozil were two of the breakout stars of that tournament, and while Muller has had a poor season he's still a safe bet to start, while Ozil has gone from strength-to-strength in Madrid and will have a big part to play this summer. If a change of personal is needed, then they have a frightening arsenal of talent at their disposal, including the Dortmund-headed Marco Reus, Bayer Leverkusen's Andre Schurrle, and the much-discussed 'wunderkind' Mario Gotze.

Strikers

This should be a fairly straightforward choice, given Mario Gomez scored 41 goals in all competitions for Bayern in the previous term. However, Miroslav Klose has been Germany's big tournament striker for years now, while Gomez has never quite carried on his club form for his country. Also in Klose's advantage is the partnerships he has with the three players behind him, in particular Podolski. Fitness concerns, though, should mean Gomez starts - for the first game at least. If he fails to fire, don't be surprised to see Klose reclaim his spot fairly quickly. Lukas Podolski and Andre Schurrle can also fill in here, if required.

How far they'll go

They have been drawn in the so-called 'group of death', alongside Holland, Denmark and Portugal. Despite this, Germany should not only progress, but do so as winners. That will leave them with what should be a fairly comfortable quarter final with one of the four teams from group A: Poland, Greece, Russia or Czech Republic. If all goes as predicted, lying in wait for them in the semi final will be France or Italy, although it could always be the old enemy that is England. You wouldn't bet against them beating any of those sides, and in the final could be another encounter with Holland, or a repeat of 2008s final - and 2010s World Cup semi final - with Spain. It's all hypothetical, of course, but my money is on Germany going all the way.

Predicted line-up v Portugal (4-2-3-1)

Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Muller, Ozil, Podolski; Gomez.

 

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