Ben Green @PeopleSport11
The Jogi Löew factor
Joachim Löw has taken Germany to five major tournaments: UEFA EURO 2008, the FIFA World Cup 2010, UEFA EURO 2012, the FIFA World Cup 2014 and UEFA EURO 2016. In every single one of those tournaments, Germany have reached at least the semi-finals. Winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and finishing runners-up to Spain in 2008.
It is not as if Germany have had simple runs to the last four, either. In 2010 Löw’s side knocked out England and Argentina before a semi- final exit to Spain.
In 2012 they topped a group containing Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands, while in 2014 they won a group of death with Portugal, the USA and Ghana.Put it this way: if Löw is your coach, you have a 25 per cent chance of winning the tournament.
Germany are the holders
Once Germany do get to the last four, there’s a vast amount of tournament savvy within the nation’s ranks.
As the current holders, Germany know exactly what it takes to win the tournament. And while no nation has managed to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962, Germany could conceivably send out eight starters (including Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller, all of whom play together for Bayern Munich at club level) from the 2014 World Cup final for their opening game in Russia.
On top of that, Bundesliga clubs – such as Bayern – more often than not reach the latter stages at the top level of continental football.
Löew’s likely lads are regularly picking up that much-valued big-game know-how and trophy-winning experience.
Germany’s tournament know-how
That Löw could send out eight starters from the 2014 final (Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Christoph Kramer and Benedikt Höwedes are the other four) underlines the wealth of tournament experience within the German ranks.
It’s not just at the top level, either; an experimental ensemble lifted the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia this past summer. While the juniors won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Prevailing at major tournaments is as much about managing situations in tight games as it is playing scintillating football; invariably the side that keeps its cool when the going gets tough comes out on top. With all that tournament expertise – even at youth tournaments – Löew’s unit looks well set.
Germany’s strength in depth
That experience – Löw taking an experimental squad to the Confederations Cup and the youngsters prevailing at the EUROs this past summer – has translated into unrivalled squad depth.
No other nation boasts a wealth of options quite like Germany, who could choose no fewer than four separate starting XIs for the tournament.
Alas, the 57-year- old tactician is only allowed to take 23 players – three of whom will be goalkeepers – and selecting a balanced squad from his embarrassment of riches is Löw’s major pre-tournament challenge.