Can the world champions make it two major tournaments in a row as they did in 1972-74? Or is Germany’s dominance heading for an abrupt end?
Let’s take a look at what they have to offer as we head towards Euro 2016…
Route to Euro 2016
Germany won Qualifying Group D, as expected. However, it was by no means easy for the world champions, who lost 2-0 to Poland and 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland.
Despite two wins over Scotland, the Germans were nowhere near their best, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s adventurous ‘sweeper’ strategy making up for some serious weakness in defence.
Germany are arguably the most successful team in the history of the European Championships. They were champions in 1972 and 1980 (as West Germany), and again in 1996 after reunification. They were also runners-up in 1976, 1992 and 2008.
Even when putting in bad performances in the Euros (as in 1984, 2000 and 2004), they manage to redress the balance somewhat in following tournaments: they were runners-up at the 1986 and 2002 World Cups and reached the semi-finals in 2006.
After a nomadic coaching career in Germany, Austria, and Turkey, Joachim Löw became Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant with the German national team in 2004. The two men took the hosts to third place at the 2006 World Cup.
After Klinsmann resigned, Löw took his job where he led Germany to second place in Euro 2008 and the semis four years later. Germany are the current world champions, having beaten Argentina 1-0 in the 2014 final.
Löw faced criticism after Germany were knocked out by Spain in 2010, with some sections of the press deriding him as a loser. Despite winning the World Cup four years later, he still resists the urge to gloat.
Most important player
Many describe goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, as a sweeper-keeper. He continues to refine the role in ways that are his own.
This unique style is key to Germany’s high-risk defensive strategy: his presence allows the team’s slow defenders to move higher up than they would normally.
While his deputy, Marc-André ter Stegen, is a great keeper, the fact is that Germany simply couldn’t play the same way without Neuer.
Neuer’s style was very effective in the last World Cup. For example, whenever Argentina made attacking runs against Germany during the final, Neuer’s ability to challenge them often caused his opponents to push the ball wide.
Julian Draxler was part of the 2014 World Cup winning squad, but didn’t see much action due to the presence of Mesut Özil, Marco Reus, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze.
Since moving from Schalke to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2015, the 22-year-old’s dribbling and crossing abilities have created many chances for his new club.
As a versatile attacking midfielder/winger hybrid, Draxler is very much a product of the modern game.
His impressive form of late may or may not be enough to displace a string of outstanding players in his position, but the 22-year-old is certainly one to watch out for in the future.
Germany have a wealth of talent in their squad. But since Miroslav Klose’s international retirement, they never seem to bring any element of surprise in their tactics. They are weak in the full-back positions: an issue which teams with quick defenders may be able to exploit.
However, Germany’s frontline is so strong that their rivals quite often find themselves on the back foot. This could be a big test for Northern Ireland, in particular, who are favourites to finish last in their group.