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Euro 2012 preview: Spain the challenge for formidable Germany

Published: June 5, 2012 | 7:45 am
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Germany are on of the pre-tournament favourites, and why not? Joachim Lowe has a strong squad which has all the prerequisites for lifting the trophy they last won in 1996. In addition to being three-time Euro champions, Germany have made the finals in 1976, 1992 and 2008 to finish second best.
There is a feeling in the media that this current German team has closed the gap on defending champions Spain and that with a perfect balance of youth and experience, it can go all the way. Talents such as Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze ensure the national team will be in good shape in not just Euro 2012, but many upcoming tournaments.
Though Germany find themselves drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ along with Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark, they are favourites to top the group. Germany won each of their 10 qualifying games, and with perfect balance in the squad, likes of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose will be key in making the experience count in the group and knock-out stages of the tournament.

In Schweinsteiger, Germany arguable have one of the best midfielders going into the Euro. Schweinsteiger will be out to put the disappointment of the Champions League final behind him and will want to get the winners medal this time around. Sami Khedira will have the responsibility of a deep lying midfielder who will have the task to hold the defenders. But the man who can be a real game-changer in the midfield is Ozil, who has developed his game at Real Madrid and is one of the finest playmakers in the world. He can dribble, play deft defense-splitting passes and score his fair share of goals.

Upfront, Lowe has lots of options. The likes of Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski have loads of goals in them. Gomez is coming off a fantastic season with Bayern Munich where he scored more than 40 goals in all competitions. Podolski – after completing his switch to Arsenal – will be another trump card for Germany.

If 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 their captain, Lahm. Thankfully Germanyhave Manuel Neuer in the goal; he is one of the best goalkeepers at the moment and is coming after a wonderful season with Bayern. Manuel Neuer will be the man to defend his country’s colours.

Germany squad:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese, Ron-Robert Zieler

Defenders: Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Hoewedes, Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Marcel Schmelzer

Midfielders: Lars Bender, Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Forwards: Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski

Recent Euro performances:

2008 – Runner ups

2004 – Eliminated in group stage

2000 – Eliminated in group stage

1996 – Champions

Keep an eye on: Mesut Ozil, Mario Gomez, Manuel Neuer

Prediction: With perfect balance in the squad Germany can go all the way, though Spain can hurt their chances.

Fixtures:

June 9, 2012: Germany vs Portugal – Arena Lviv, Lviv

June 13, 2012: Netherlands vs Germany – Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv

June 17, 2012: Denmark vs Germany – Arena Lviv, Lviv

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