Serial contenders for every major tournament since the year dot, the European Championships’ most successful side were the first team to get their towels down for the summer.
They strolled through qualification, making a mockery of a group that had appeared to be a tricky draw on paper.
The second favourites would look to have found little fortune in the group draw either but there can be little doubt that Holland, Denmark and Portugal will be far more wary of the threat a confident, flowing German team that scored 34 goals and won all ten games en route to qualification pose to them than vice versa. Joachim Low’s charges will surely be firmly focused on topping the pile from the off too given the benefits of that could include avoiding Spain until the final in Kiev.
It always makes for odd reading when German squad sheets are studied as they haven’t contained many world superstars, or players worthy of a spot in a potential world XI, in their ranks since Jurgen Klinsmann, Andreas Moller and Lothar Matthaus were plying their trade but their consistency over the most recent tournaments is bettered only by Spain. A semi-final defeat in extra-time to eventual champions Italy on their own soil in 2006 was followed by successive single-goal losses to Spain in 2008 and 2010 in the final and last four respectively, so it would be fair to say they’ve taken on the role of bridesmaids to the leading lights over that period but the current side are widely acknowledged to be the most talented the country has produced since Moller, Klinsmann and co were victorious at Euro 96.
Again Germany arrive with perhaps only one of the world’s elite XI in their side as captain Phillippe Lahm remains a class apart as a full-back who offers plenty going forward without compromising his defensive capabilities or positioning and with their mental strength never in question they remain a unit who routinely perform better than the sum of their parts. Except that on this occasion they have flair and pace to add to their steel and have integrated some of the world’s best young talent in Mario Goetze and Marko Reus to their ranks, which, alloyed to a core of players entering their prime, makes for a quite formidable squad.
Central to their hopes will be the creative talents of Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil, as five goals and nine assists in nine qualifying games will attest, but with Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez all posing a considerable goal threat and no strangers to international competition, and Miroslav Klose – who must have quite an impressive collection of T-shirts given how frequently he’s been there and done it – to call upon, their capacity for goals is intimidating.
As with so many of the teams at Euro 2012 Germany’s weaknesses lie in their defence and the bus bringing their players to the ground will turn faster than Per Mertesacker does this summer but the cumbersome Arsenal centre-half will benefit from a typically well-organised and determined bunch around him so their 16-year wait for an international trophy may reach it’s conclusion this summer when Lahm leads his side toward another golden era in their illustrious history.