Football Features

Germany Euro 2020: Best players, manager, tactics, form and chance of winning

By Chris Smith

Published: 18:40, 19 May 2021

After a miserable 2018 World Cup campaign, Germany head 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.

The best players Germany are bringing to Euro 2020:

Manuel Neuer

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 Bayern mopped up every title available to them last season. As one of the few players in this squad with major tournament-winning experience at international level, too, he’ll play a key part for Low this summer.

Joshua Kimmich

Once the heir to Philipp Lahm at full-back, Joshua Kimmich has fully completed the transition to central midfield and is now arguably the best No.6 on the planet. 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 33 games across Bundesliga and Champions League play this 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

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 15 goals in 20 caps, Gnabry’s record for Germany has been astounding so far — his ability to interchange between wide and central positions will make him incredibly unpredictable for the likes of France and Portugal in the group stages.

Timo Werner

Which Timo Werner will turn up to the European Championships is one of the biggest questions Germany face heading into this summer. After scoring 95 goals in 159 appearances for RB Leipzig, his move to Chelsea last summer felt like the natural progression for his career but, thus far, it hasn’t worked out in London with the 25-year-old managing just 12 goals in 50 games across all competitions, and only six of those strikes have come in the Premier League. On the face of it, his record for Germany looks great with 15 goals in 35 caps. However, he couldn’t get off the mark at Russia 2018 and he’ll want to put that major tournament record right this summer to silence his critics. Whether or not Werner can do that might well be key to Germany’s chances of making a deep run at this tournament.

Why Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Marco Reus aren’t in the Germany squad

When the Germany squad for Euro 2020 was announced, the biggest stories were the inclusions of Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, whose international careers had looked over after the 2018 World Cup.

However, there was a big exclusion too as Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen missed out, replaced by Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp who joins Neuer and Bernd Leno. Now, this isn’t a performance based absence, as Ter Stegen is set to undergo a procedure on his knee that will rule him out of the tournament.

“I have decided together with the medical team of the club that I will do a complementary intervention on my knee,” he wrote in a message on his Instagram.

“I’m sad that I will miss the Euro 2020 this summer with Germany. For the first time in many years I will be a fan at home supporting my country, I hope we win it.”

Ter Stegen is joined in missing Euro 2020 by Marco Reus, with the Dortmund forward needing time to recover after a gruelling season ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

“After a complicated, exhausting and, in the end, ‘thank God’ successful season, I decided, together with the national team coach not to go to the European Championship,” Reus posted, also on Instagram.

“This decision was very difficult for me because I am always full of pride when I am allowed to appear for my country.

“But after a very intense year for me personally and achieving my goals at BVB, I made the decision to give my body time to recover!

“I will make good use of the break in order to be able to start the new season optimally! I wish ‘Jogi’ and our team all the best for the Euros and I will cheer as a fan and keep my fingers crossed.”

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.

Even with a Germany side in transition relative to their last major tournament appearance, the approach won’t change here. Germany will be expected to dominate the ball, get forward quickly and use the pace of Gnabry, Werner and Sane to stretch the opposition and make it impossible to defend against them.

The tactics

Though he has experimented with a back-five, Low has mostly stuck with a 4-3-3 formation. The most likely centre-back partnership among Low’s current options would be Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule, though Mats Hummels’ recall throws up an alternative. There is, however, fierce competition at full-back, with the likes of Lukas Klostermann, Marcel Halstenberg, Philipp Max, Mathias Ginter and Robin Goesens all battling for two spots.

Then there are the goalkeepers. While England, the Netherlands, Spain and Co struggle to settle on just one reliable option, Germany have a plethora of incredible shot-stoppers to choose from. Manuel Neuer is the obvious No.1 but behind him, Arsenal’s Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp of Eintracht Frankfurt provide incredible depth. In short, regardless of who Low picks in defence, scoring goals against Germany could prove a very difficult task.

Further forward, Germany qualified for the Euros with a record of seven wins and one defeat in eight games, scoring a massive 30 goals along the way, eight of which belonged to Gnabry. Alongside Werner and Bayern Munich teammate Leroy Sane, Gnabry completes a dynamic German front-three with eye-watering pace and enough tactical flexibility to make them incredibly unpredictable and hard to contain. Behind them, the likes of Gundogan and Leon Goretzka have been in supreme goalscoring and creative form at club level and with the elite protection and passing of Joshua Kimmich in the No.6 role, Low could form a genuinely world-class, forward-thinking midfield. Toni Kroos, of course, is still a regular in the German starting XI, while there is the added option of Thomas Muller operating behind the forward line after his phenomenal season with Bayern.

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.

Joshua Kimmich has been pushed into a midfield role now, while Leon Goretzka won’t be found so high up.  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: LWWLWDWDDWW

Germany were humiliated in their last match, losing 2-1 to North Macedonia in their third World Cup qualifier in March. However, it also represents just their second defeat since that aforementioned loss to the Netherlands back in September 2019, a run spanning 13 games across all competitions and friendlies.

Germany Euro 2020 odds: Can they even make it out of their group?

As it stands, Germany sit behind England, Belgium and France as fourth-favourites at 7/1 (Sky Bet) to win their fourth European Championship title.

But one of the most obvious hurdles in Germany’s quest for success this summer is the ridiculously tough group they’ve been drawn into. Alongside Die Mannschaft in Group F are world champions France, European Championships and Uefa Nations League winners Portugal, and a dangerous Hungary side which boasts the likes of RB Leipzig trio Peter Gulacsi, Dominik Szoboszlai and Willi Orban.

As it stands, Germany are favourites to go through to the knockout rounds, but as Low will have learned from 2018, that tag can often be a burden.

Odds to advance from Group F with Sky Bet…

18+ only. All odds via Sky Bet and correct as of 13:30 on 28/04/2021. T&Cs apply.

  • France – 1/9
  • Germany – 1/12
  • Portugal – 1/5
  • Hungary – 9/2

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