Youthful world champions Germany seek Euro 2016 success without familiar faces
Lee Gormley | May 23, 2016
Germany enter Euro 2016 with high hopes
Following their 2014 World Cup heroics in Brazil, Germany will take to Euro 2016 this summer with the hope of adding to their previous international success, though they will have to do it without some familiar faces as Joachim Low opts for a more youthful approach in France.
Die Mannschaft’s supreme run two years ago, in which they famously thumped hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, was helped by many experienced heads, but the latest roster which is set to embark on its journey to France will have a fresher feel about it.
In light of the World Cup win, Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker called time on his international career, along with esteemed goal getter Miroslav Klose, who finished his Germany days by becoming the competition’s all-time marksman, overcoming Brazil legend Ronaldo’s record.
Long-serving skipper Philipp Lahm also hung up his boots after lifting the trophy aloft, with the Bayern Munich icon ending a 10-year service for his country’s national side and, without these previously pivotal stars, Low’s current outfit are still 4/1 second-favourites to reign supreme.
Sane the pick of young German talents
In light of those former experienced heads departing the German set-up, a new era is upon Die Mannschaft, as Low’s latest provisional 27-man squad for the Euros features a host of youngsters that are ready to take their opportunity in the spotlight.
Among that recently named roster are four highly-rated starlets and three uncapped players, with versatile Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich, Schalke playmaker Leroy Sane, Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl and Bayer Leverkusen wideman Julian Brandt all getting the nod.
At 20 years of age, Sane is the only one of these four promising talents to have so far earned an appearance for the senior squad, when making his national debut as a substitute against France in November 2015.
The Bundesliga attacking midfielder has been heavily linked with a switch to Manchester City in recent weeks, where former Munich boss Pep Guardiola is set to charge, and a summer of showcasing his creative abilities will only boost his evergrowing reputation, and price tag.
Guardiola previously praised 20-year-old Kimmich for his displays at centre back and in a holding midfield role at the Allianz Arena during his reign, with Dortmund’s Weigl enjoying a superb debut Bundesliga campaign as his club finished second, while fellow youngster Brandt’s nine goals earned Leverkusen third spot.
Low opts for youthful approach
Germany are seen as second only to Didier Deschamps’ hosts France in the outright odds for this summer’s showcase football event, with Les Bleus entering as 11/4 front runners, but experienced Die Mannschaft boss Low is confident his roster can compete once again.
“Now it is about forging a unit, to tune everyone towards the same, common goal,” declared the 56-year-old coach.
“The collective is more important than every single individual player. We know we are strong but not invincible, so we have to work during our training camp.”
With the fresh injection of youth in his set-up, Low will hope to finally secure a European Championship crown after finishing second to Spain in 2008 and recording third during 2012. Among that younger generation are plenty of experienced and prime players though, including a dozen from the World Cup coup.
Perfect blend of youth and experience
Those include Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, Bayern sharpshooter Thomas Muller and his teammate and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, while Manchester United veteran Bastian Schweinsteiger is included in the provisional set-up, despite facing a fitness race after another injury.
With record World Cup marksman Klose having retired, and Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski the only two other recognised forwards chosen, Muller will see the goal burden fall upon his shoulders this summer, as he enters as the 7/1 favourite to add another Golden Boot win to his past 2010 World Cup personal accolade.
Not all the currently active World Cup winners were selected though, with both Christoph Kramer and Matthias Ginter missing out, and Low was sympathetic towards those unsuccessful, adding: “There were some difficult phone calls I had to make but that comes with the job. Obviously those lads not going to France were bitterly disappointed.”
The determined Germany boss will announce his final squad on May 31st ahead of the trip to France, where the world champions will first try to conquer a promising Group C featuring qualifying rivals Poland, a potentially dangerous Ukraine and Northern Ireland in what could be another successful summer.
Have a gander at our extensive Euro 2016 section too before the big kick-off.