Germany are one of the most successful sides in the history of the European Championship. They have won it thrice and were runners-up three times (including three finals as West Germany). But Die Mannschaft will enter Euro 2020 with a lot of self-doubts. First, the focus is on the departing manager Joachim Low; and second, there is a sense of despondency. (More Football News)
With Low departing after the tournament and a replacement already set to take over, expectations are low for Germany at the European Championship. Quite low, especially considering the team's dismal performance as defending champions at the last World Cup and the 6-0 drubbing by Spain last year in the Nations League. Low did win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, making Germany the first European team to win the tournament in the Americas, but he recently brought forward his previous plan to quit after next year's World Cup.
Following that victorious final against Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Germany have slumped. Low's attempt at a shakeup failed, culminating in the embarrassment against Spain in November — the national team's worst loss since 1931 — and a subsequent 2-1 loss to North Macedonia in March in World Cup qualifying. Another failure at Euro 2020 will certainly lead to questions of why the German federation has stuck with “Jogi” for so long amid few signs of progress. It has turned the competition into a very personal affair.
GROUP AND FIXTURES
Yes, the dreaded group of death! Germany start their Euro 2020 campaign with a clash against world champions France on June 15. They take on defending champions Portugal at the same venue on June 19, followed by a clash against Hungary on June 23. All at Allianz Arena, Munich. So, Germany will play their three group games and a potential quarterfinal at home.
If Germany win the group, they play the third-placed team from Group A or B or C in Bucharest in the round of 16. Finish second, and they travel to London for a fixture against Group D (Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Scotland) winners.
WHO TO WATCH
Freed of the need to rebuild, Low was able to pick his best available team for the tournament, including recalling veterans Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels for their quality and experience. Success would repair damage to his battered reputation and allow the 61-year-old Low to end his tenure on a high. In fact, by offering to step down, Low has also taken the pressure off his players. They may yet rally around the coach to give him a perfect send-off.
Forwards Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry play with Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich, but Germany lack a traditional No. 9 in the mold of the Poland striker. Timo Werner is erratic in front of the goal. And Low has recalled striker Kevin Volland to help make up for the shortfall.
Germany has other excellent players. No one is questioning the quality of Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka or Joshua Kimmich, but they alone can't drag the team to success without the help of the supporting players.
The 31-year-old Muller had an outstanding season for Bayern Munich, scoring 11 goals and setting up 21 more to help the club win its ninth straight Bundesliga title — his 10th altogether. Hummels, a year older at 32, marshaled Dortmund's defense to help it win the German Cup and qualify for the Champions League.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is out of what would have been a reserve role behind captain Neuer after opting for surgery on his right knee. It's arguable the Barcelona keeper might have soldiered through the pain if he foresaw a starring role in Germany winning the competition.
Marco Reus also opted not to take part. The Borussia Dortmund captain finished the Bundesliga season strongly but his Germany career has been overshadowed by injuries and he told Low he was unsure if he could meet the demands of the competition.
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno, Manuel Neuer, Kevin Trapp
Defenders: Matthias Ginter, Robin Gosens, Christian Gunter, Marcel Halstenberg, Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule
Midfielders: Emre Can, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Kai Havertz, Jonas Hofmann, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Florian Neuhaus
Forwards: Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Jamal Musiala, Timo Werner, Leroy Sane, Kevin Kolland.
(With AP inputs)