After a miserable 2018 World Cup campaign, Germany headed into Euro 2020 looking to re-establish themselves as tournament powerhouses.
Die Mannschaft arrived in Russia as defending world champions and semi-finalists in the last seven major tournaments, but, despite a qualifying campaign that saw them win all 10 of their games with just four goals conceded, were dumped out with only a solitary victory.
But since then, Joachim Low, who will stand down after the Euros, has been overhauling his playing squad, with the likes of Jerome Boateng being jettisoned. Younger models, such as Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, have taken more prominent roles in Germany’s squad alongside veterans Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer, while Florian Neuhaus and Jamal Musiala have also forced their way into this summer’s plans.
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The best players Germany are bringing to Euro 2020:
Remember in 2018 when everybody accused Neuer of being a busted flush of a goalkeeper? Well, since then the 35-year-old has fully recovered his fitness and re-established himself as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet both with the ball at his feet and at keeping it out of the net. Neuer has kept 24 clean sheets in the Bundesliga alone since the start of last season, while he’s bailed his side out on numerous occasions. As one of the few players in this squad with major tournament-winning experience at international level, too, he’s playing a key part for Low this summer.
After appearing to have settled in midfield for Bayern Munich, Joshua Kimmich has returned to the right-flank this summer with Germany. Still bringing plenty of bite to his defensive duties, Kimmich also exudes pure class with the ball, splitting defences open and keeping Bayern ticking with precision passing and ice-cold composure. The 26-year-old already has 14 assists from 34 games across Bundesliga and Champions League play last season, while his tendency to pull out the odd screamer from distance makes him a wildcard option to go and be the difference-maker for Germany.
Serge Gnabry has been doing a wonderful job of putting his failed Arsenal spell in the rearview mirror and honestly, it’s been a joy to watch him do it. Far more than a simple speed merchant, Gnabry can turn defenders inside-out with dynamic dribbling, while his direct nature means he will always look to get himself in front of goal. With 16 goals in 25 caps, Gnabry’s record for Germany has been astounding so far — his ability to interchange between wide and central positions makes him incredibly unpredictable for any opponent.
The head coach: Joachim Low
Despite coming under regular pressure, Low has stood the test of time in his role as Germany manager, leading Die Mannschaft to two European Championship semi-finals, a runner-up performance in the 2008 Euros, two World Cup semi-finals and that famous, glorious 2014 campaign.
But this will be Low’s last tournament as Germany boss, with the 61-year-old announcing his decision to step down this summer.
“I take this step very consciously, full of pride and enormous gratitude, but at the same time continue to be very motivated when it comes to the upcoming European Championship tournament,” Low said in March. “Proud because it is something very special and an honour for me to be involved in my country and because I have been able to work with the best footballers in the country for almost 17 years and support them in their development.
“I have great triumphs with them and painful defeats, but above all many wonderful and magical moments – not just winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I am and will remain grateful to the DFB, which has always provided me and the team with an ideal working environment.”
Prior to taking the reins, Low spent time as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant and oversaw Germany’s transition into a much more attractive, attacking unit. He expects every player in his squad to be proficient with the ball at their feet, able to play in tight spaces and maintain dominance in possession. Few players reflect this better than long-time goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, a player Low has often insisted is capable of playing outfield.
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In his final tournament in charge, Low has opted to go with a three-man central defence consisting of Mats Hummels, Antonio Rudiger and Matthias Ginter. Flanking them at wing-back is the excellent Robin Gosens, who has already been causing a lot of problems, and equally brilliant Kimmich in the aforementioned defensive role.
Further forward, the midfield duo has been set up to help Germany control possession with Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan both established on the ball and excellent in their passing, though they have come under some criticism for the lack of defensive cover. The big call from Low has been in attack, with Timo Werner out of favour. Instead, Gnabry has played as the False No.9 with Kai Havertz and Thomas Muller slightly behind.
While some key players remain from the German side that bowed out of the 2018 World Cup group stages, there are also a couple of big names that won’t be there. Mesut Ozil hasn’t played for Germany since that defeat, neither has Sami Khedira who recently announced he will be retiring at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Jonas Hector is another you won’t see around the Germany set up anymore, with the 30-year-old utility man not appearing for Die Mannschaft since 2019.
The form guide
Euro 2020 qualifying: WWWWLWWWWW
As mentioned, Germany were in ruthless attack during qualifying for this tournament and that potent forward line helped inspire them to qualification with seven wins and just one defeat — 4-2 against the Netherlands — in eight games. That was enough to top the group with 21 points, two ahead of the Dutch and eight clear of Northern Ireland.
Recent fixtures: DWLWDLDW
Germany weren’t great in the group stages, losing to France and drawing with Hungary, but they did enough to secure second place thanks to an accomplished 4-2 win over Portugal. It continued Germany’s strange year which has also seen them lose 2-1 to North Macedonia in World Cup qualifying.
Germany Euro 2020 odds: Can they even make it out of their group?
As it stands, Germany sit behind England, Italy and France as fourth-favourites at 13/2 (Sky Bet) to win their fourth European Championship title. That comes despite Germany facing England in the last-16 having got through arguably the toughest group at Euro 2020.