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Euro 2020 team guides part 22: Germany

This article is part of the Guardian’s Euro 2020 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 24 countries who qualified. theguardian.com is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 11 June.

Joachim Löw does not have a particular interest in skateboarding or BMX, at least not as far as we know, but with regard to his personnel he was able to do a complete 180 before the Euros. After the diabolical World Cup in Russia in 2018, Löw announced that Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng would not be considered for selection in the future. Now the first two are back, with Löw explaining at the squad announcement: “We had to think about everything. Having a successful tournament is our No 1 priority.”

Euro 2020: can Löw go out on a high with Germany? – video preview

There is no question that Müller, who is back at the peak of his powers in terms of goals and assists (an incredible 20 of these in the league for Bayern this season), will strengthen the attack. As for Hummels, he may lack pace but his experience should stabilise a shaky defence.

He will not be the leader of the defence, however: that role will fall to Antonio Rüdiger, who has developed into a world-class defender under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea. The most important person in defence, though, is still Manuel Neuer, whom his rival Bernd Leno has called “the best goalkeeper of the past 30, 40 years”.

The midfield will be an interesting area. This is where Germany struggled in 2018, when it became apparent that Sami Khedira’s best days were behind him. Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gündogan and Kai Havertz are brilliant players but they need a hoover behind them, a Casemiro, and this summer that role is likely to be filled by Joshua Kimmich. On paper it is a good solution but it did not work well in the Euro 2020 qualifier against the Netherlands, who overran the midfield and won 4-2.

Leon Goretzka is an interesting option, the one box-to-box player in the squad, and he should be fit to play having recovered from injury. Löw is certainly a big fan: “You can see his strength and power. He pushes the game attacking-wise and works really well in defence.” This is Löw’s final tournament, and he has gambled by bringing back two players who brought success to Germany before. Can it happen again?

The coach

There was a brief flicker of optimism after Löw announced he would step down after the Euros but that was duly snuffed out by the home defeat by North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier in March. “The whole world is laughing at us,” lamented the press, and the general feeling is that Löw probably should have left three or maybe even seven years ago. He has been head coach for 15 years now and, of course, won the World Cup in 2014. Four years later, though, there was the first-round exit in Russia and in 2020 the team lost a Nations League game 6-0 to Spain. After one last summer of high pressure, Löw will have more time to drive his classic cabriolet around in the mountains of the Black Forest, his home region.

Icon

He may not look like David Beckham and he doesn’t have his own perfume or underwear collection, but Thomas Müller is the poster boy of this Germany team. Müller breeds horses with his wife, Lisa, gives funny interviews and looks like the guy next door. His playing style is not particularly elegant but it is effective – it is the whole Thomas Müller package that makes him so popular. It feels genuine because he is genuine. In 2017 he guest-starred in an episode of the comedy/crime series Hubert und Staller.

Happy for a year’s delay

Jamal Musiala. A year ago he was part of Bayern Munich’s amateur team in the third division and England’s under-21 team (he moved from Germany to England when he was seven). Musiala impressed so much, though, that he made his first-team debut for Bayern and was called up by Germany in February. “I have a heart for Germany and a heart for England,” he said after announcing that he would play for the former. “Both hearts will keep on beating.”

Probable lineup

What the fans sing

The comedian Oliver Pocher recorded a song called Schwarz und Weiß (Black and White) before the World Cup in Germany in 2006. It became the national team’s “goal song” and remained so until 2018. After what happened in Russia it felt like it was time for a change, although you may hear it this summer too depending on how the Nationalmannschaft fare.

What the fans say

“Deutschland ist eine Turniermannschaft” – whether German teams are talented or not, they always perform at big tournaments (erm, apart from the last one).

“Klare Dinger hinten raus” – a request to keep it simple and safe, especially at the back

“Flach spielen, hoch gewinnen!” – Keep the ball down on the ground to win high!

Pandemic hero/villain

Leon Goretzka. First, he came out of the first lockdown looking like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, then he founded the “We kick Corona” initiative with Joshua Kimmich. The two Bayern stars provided €1m as startup capital and the campaign soon raised €4m. Goretzka told the Bayern website: “I was not aware how many people across Germany were willing to do good, on a voluntary basis, without being paid for it – that really blew me away.”

Tammo Blomberg and Oliver Fritsch writee for Die Zeit.

Follow them on Twitter: @tblmbrg and @OliFritsch.

For a player profile of Lukas Klostermann click here.

This post was originally published on this site

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