Germany have not won a trophy since the European Championships in 1996 but many in the country believe Euro 2012 represents their best chance of doing so.
There is a strong-held belief that Joachim Low’s team have closed the gap on reigning champions Spain and that the time may be ripe to end the dominance of La Furia Roja (The Red Fury).
For this is the most vibrant team Germany have had in years. The money injected into the grassroots level of the game is now paying dividends, and such talents as Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze ensure the national team will be in good shape for many years to come.
And then there are the old-timers – the experienced players needed to win major titles. In Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Miroslav Klose Germany possess experience in abundance and the know-how needed to win big games.
Germany won each of their 10 qualifying games, scoring 34 goals and conceding just seven in a far from straightforward group. Low was able to experiment with some younger players such as Gotze in a qualifying group that contained such teams as Turkey and Belgium.
Klose scored nine goals in that qualifying campaign to continue his phenomenal international scoring record. A strong season with Lazio is likely to put him in the box seat for a place in attack.
- Best World Cup Result: Winners (1954, 1974 and 1990)
- Best European Championship Result: Winners (1972, 1980 and 1996)
- Record Scorer: Gerd Muller (68 goals from 1966 to 1974)
- Most Capped Player: Lothar Matthaus (150 caps between 1980 and 2000)
- Coach: Joachim Low
- Captain: Philipp Lahm
23-man Germany Euro 2012 Squad:
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Tim Wiese (Hoffenheim), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover).
Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Bendikt Howedes (Schalke), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Marcel Schmelzer (Dortmund).
Midfielders: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Lars Bender (Leverkusen), Ilkay Gundogan (Dortmund), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Moenchengladbach), Mario Gotze (Dortmund), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid).
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Andreas Schurrle (Leverkusen), Lukas Podolski (Cologne).
The Coach: Joachim LowLow has proved that he is not afraid to make ruthless decisions. In 2010 he told Torsten Frings that he would not be going to the World Cup despite being a fixture in the team at the previous World Cup, while last year he phased out Michael Ballack. Low guided Germany to the final of Euro 2008 and the semi-finals of the last World Cup where they were beaten by Spain. He has lost just five competitive matches in charge of the national team.
Player to Watch: Mesut OzilThe former Werder Bremen youngster starred at the last World Cup before linking up with Real Madrid after the tournament. Under Jose Mourinho Ozil has developed his game further and is now considered one of the best playmakers in the world. Ozil can dribble, play deft defense-splitting passes and scores his fair share of goals.
Group Matches:Saturday, June 9, 2012 v Portugal (20:45 CET in Lviv)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 v Holland (20:45 CET in Kharkiv)
Sunday, June 17, 2012 v Denmark (20:45 CET in Lviv)
Prediction: Semi-FinalsIf Germany have a weakness it may be at the back where they do not possess the battle-hardened defenders of old. The likes of Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Hummels are all good defenders but lack the experience of captain Lahm.
They are in the ‘Group of Death’, too. The presence of Holland, Portugal and Denmark means that Low’s side will have to hit the ground running in June. But they are arguably the strongest of these sides and one of the top two positions should be theirs.
A possible semi-final against Spain beckons if Germany can negotiate their way past one of Poland, Greece, Russia or the Czech Republic. There is a feeling amongst many that Spain, perhaps no longer as hungry, have plateaued while Germany are on the way up and this is the perfect opportunity for Low’s side to prove it. Spain remain favorites.