FIFA World Ranking:
v. Portugal – June 9 – Arena Lviv, Lviv
v. Holland – June 13 – Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv
v. Denmark – June 17 – Arena Lviv, Lviv
The road to the championship:
The Germans enjoyed a perfect qualifying run to the 2012 championships, winning all ten of their matches. Der Manschaft scored 34 goals in qualifying, with long-serving striker Miroslav Klose top-scoring Group A with nine goals.
The Germans had a reasonably strong group to qualify past, which included Turkey (who qualified for the tournament as group runners up), Austria and Belgium. Yet the vision and skill of Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil – who has aptly filled the shoes of Michael Ballack as the key man in Germany’s midfield – combined with the quality of Klose and Mario Gomez up front, saw Germany breeze into EURO 2012.
Champions: 1972, 1980, 1996
Mesut Özil – Die Mannschaft’s playmaker has more than filled the large shoes left by Michael Ballack, and starred alongside Sami Khedira at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Jose Mourinho was quick to sign the attacking midfielder as part of his new tenure at Real Madrid, and Özil relished the move – flourishing at the Bernabeu.
Manuel Neuer – after enjoying a fantastic run to the Champions League semi finals with Schalke 04 in the 2010/11 season, Neuer quickly became the most sought-after goalkeeper in Europe. Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich manager to beat off the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham; and signed him for around €25 million. Neuer was imperious between the sticks for the Bavarians during the 2011/12 season, which saw him help his side to the Champions League final.
Player to watch out for:
Mario Götze – Götze enjoyed a prolific title-winning season for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and attracted the attention of a number of top European clubs with his dominant performances in the Champion’s midfield. Götze plays in a similar flowing fashion to Özil, but is also capable of raiding down both wings. While it’s unlikely that Götze will start against Portugal on June 7, he will be more than likely to feature as part of Löw’s extended squad, then earn a large-sum transfer away from the Signal Iduna Park after the tournament.
Joachim Löw – after supporting Jürgen Klinnsman as an assistant manager at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Löw took over as the head coach and guided Germany to the final of EURO 2008, where they narrowly lost to Spain. Few tipped Germany to cause a stir at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, yet Löw’s youthful squad finished third in the tournament, playing an attractive, flowing style of football. Löw’s tenure as national team manager has been often characterised by his refusal to let reputation dictate selection in the side. Löw famously dropped long-serving star Torsten Frings before the 2010 World Cup, and ended ex-captain Michael Ballack’s international career in 2011.
Classic EURO moment:
The fourth edition of the European Championships saw West Germany’s first major success since its 1954 World Cup victory. Captained by the imperious Franz Beckenbauer, the Germans defeated hosts Belgium 2-1 in the semi finals, and the USSR 3-0 in the final. Gerd Müller – ‘Der Bomber’ – led the way with four goals, and earned the tournament’s golden boot award. A very similar West Germany side went on to win the 1974 World Cup on home soil, but it was the foundations and success set at EURO 1972 that paved the way for a the period of success enjoyed in German international and club football during the 70s.
Anything less than an appearance at the final of EURO 2012 will be considered a failure for this very talented Germany side. After a strong run to the semi finals in South Africa two years ago, including a 4-1 victory over rivals England and a 4-0 drubbing of Maradona’s Argentina, Germany fell short against the Spanish – courtesy of a Carles Puyol header.
Özil and Khedira will continue the strong partnership they’ve enjoyed at the Bernabeu in the German midfield. Mario Gomez is likely to start up-front, after scoring 41 goals for Bayern Munich in the 2011/12 season; in place of the aging – but still deadly – Klose.
Germany will be more than capable of topping their group, although its June 13 tie with Holland should define the quality of the Germans. If the Germans can beat the Dutch, then they will gain a huge amount of confidence, should then be drawn against Spain in the latter stages of the tournament.
upstart is previewing each of the final teams in the lead up to the EURO 2012. Tomorrow’s team: Portugal.