Team Profile – Germany
Number of European Championship Appearances: 11
Best European Championship Performance: Winners (1972, 1980, 1996)
Number of European Championship titles: 3
Qualifying Form: Played 10 Won 6 Draw 1 Lost 3
Coach: Joachim Low– appointed July 2006
Most Capped player: Lukas Podolski (127 caps)
Key Player at Euro 2016: Thomas Muller
Under the radar
It is quite possible that Germany, despite being world champions, are flying under the radar into this tournament.
Joachim Low’s men rather stuttered their way through qualifying, only sealing automatic qualification after they edged past Georgia 2-1 on home soil in their final game.
Defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in their penultimate game, coupled with Poland’s draw in Scotland meant the group was in the melting pot right to the wire.
Germany appeared to suffer some form of World Cup hangover as they began the journey to Euro 2016.
They stumbled past Scotland in their opening game before losing to Poland and coughing up a home draw to the Irish.
While it was too early to sense panic, it was an inauspicious start and ensured Germany were playing catch-up for some time in the group.
They would eventually top the group, one point clear of the Poles and four clear of Martin O’Neill’s plucky Ireland team in third.
That form coupled with friendly defeats to France, England and most recently Slovakia means that Germany are ranging up on Euro 2016 in a very low-key manner. Of course, to write off Germany would be to go against rule number one of tournament football.
Germany will attempt to match the feats of France (Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2012) in becoming the third European World Cup-winning team in the last four to back it up by winning the Euros.
Only Italy, defeated in the 2008 quarter-final, have failed in that sequence.
The Germans have reached a record six European Championship deciders, winning on three occasions but it will be some kind of frustration to them that their most recent success was 20 years ago at Wembley.
That is already the longest wait they have endured for victory since their maiden tournament appearance in 1972 so there is every reason to believe that Germany will be just as keen this summer as they were in Brazil two years ago.
Their campaign kicks off on June 12 in Lille against Ukraine – opposition against which they have yet to lose competitively.
Neighbours and familiar foes Poland await four days later at the Stade de France for what should be a tasty affair before Germany complete their Group C campaign against Northern Ireland, once more in Paris at the Parc des Princes.
Poland will fancy their chances of rattling Germany, but they have yet to win in four tournament clashes and have won only once – during qualifying for Euro 2016 – in eight meetings overall.
The core of Germany’s triumphant World Cup-winning squad remains in place.
Few are better than Manuel Neuer as a last line of defence and the Bayern Munich shot-stopper will be protected by current and future clubmates Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels in central defence.
Sami Khedira will occupy a holding role in midfield surrounded by a host of attacking talent. Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler and Andre Schurrle are all jostling for inclusion while Thomas Muller is set to feature behind Mario Gomez at the pinnacle of the attacking unit.
It is a squad that bristles with attacking intent. Mario Gotze may have scored the winning goal in the World Cup final two years ago but the 24-year-old has lost his way since moving to Bayern Munich and finds himself on the periphery of Low’s team as a consequence.
Experienced heads like Bastian Schweinsteiger are joined by new faces such as Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich and Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund as coach Low starts a new cycle for Germany.
While Germany have limped slightly between World Cup success and European ambition, make no mistake they are ready to run once again this summer.
Key Player – Thomas Muller
With Gotze’s decline, more weight will be placed on the shoulders of Arsenal’s Ozil this summer but Muller, at 26, is the player that makes Germany such a threat.
He became the third player to score more than five goals at multiple World Cups in Brazil and was leading goalscorer with nine during the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Muller has that rare but brilliant habit of seemingly being in the right place at the right time in big games. Having found the net at will during his two World Cups, he will be eager to set straight the record after failing to register at all during Germany’s run to the semi-finals four years ago in Poland and Ukraine.
An on-form Muller could be the difference between winning and losing for Germany at Euro 2016.
Euro 2016 Prospects
It has of course been said before but it bears repeating – Germany are the quintessential tournament team.
They are capable of serene and almost effortless progression into the latter stages and routinely find themselves in the last eight or better before they have been asked a serious question.
Their form between tournaments has not been spellbinding but Germany are positioned and ready for action once more when it matters most.
The recent record of European world champions bodes well and it will be no surprise should the Germans further enhance that recent tradition of follow-up success.
Anything less than a semi-final appearance for Low’s men would rank as a huge upset.
June 12 – Ukraine, Stade Lille Metropole, Lille
June 16 – Poland, Stade de France, Paris
June 21 – Northern Ireland, Parc des Princes, Paris
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Liverpool), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Antonio Ruediger (Roma).
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Andre Schurrle (VfL Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund).
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Schalke 04).