The German national team (Die Mannschaft) squad for the Euros this summer is out and official: A 26 man squad consisting of 3 goalkeepers, 9 defenders and 14 midfielders and attacking players, with 8 of these being Bayern Munich players.
Coach Joachim Löw has made some surprising inclusions (including some names that we might not have even imagined in the team a year or so back) and it seems like he might be serious about winning the competition, after all.
So, who are the surprise inclusions? Who will be mainstays in the starting 11 and who will man the bench more often than not? Does this squad have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the likes of France and England? Let’s break the squad down and analyze.
The lynchpins, aka “The essentials”
There are some players in the German national team that are simply no-brainer picks. Some of them are among the best in the world in their positions, and the team just won’t be the same without them.
Let’s start with captain Manuel Neuer. It was pretty obvious that he’d be Löw’s first choice GK for Germany in the Euros. There is no place for him outside the starting 11; the world’s best GK always starts. Next up in defense, we have Niklas Süle, Matthias Ginter and Antonio Rüdiger, who were always going to be picked due to their vast experience and them being the lone, occasional sparks in what has been a shambolic defense the past 3 years.
Süle and Ginter in particular, can be expected to play a big role in the Euros. They are possibly two of Germany’s most solid defenders (which isn’t much, but still) and Löw had to call them. Moving on to the midfield, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Ilkay Gündogan are straightforward picks. All 3 players have been spectacular this season with the former 2 primed to become Germany’s midfield generals moving forward. The Kimmetzka midfield pivot is the best in the world, period.
Up front in the attack, I will get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Müller is a lynchpin for the German national team, and there’s no doubt about it. Any other manager with half a brain would never have sent him off in the first place simply because he’s Germany’s best attacker. He’s been the best AM in club football, and his productivity and the way he drives the entire team forward is just unmatched.
I always knew Löw would eventually relent and pick him, so yeah, he’s another no-brainer pick. Germany’s chances in the Euros (which looked quite bleak) have now received a huge boost. The rest of the attacking mainstays pick themselves. Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz have a chemistry very few forward trios possess.
The supporting cast
With the mainstays out of the way, we can now focus on the rest of the ensemble. In the goalkeeping department, both Leno and Trapp are great understudies and quality backup options. It is unfortunate that Marc Andre ter-Stegen has been ruled out with an injury, since he is Germany’s clear #2. However, these two have enough quality between them to be able to inconvenience the best of attacks.
In the defensive side of things, Lukas Klostermann, Marcel Halstenberg and Robin Gosens give Löw some strong, versatile options to fill both the center-back and full-back positions. Klostermann’s speed, tenacity and crossing abilities can make him a good RCB/RB, while Gosens can play really well as an attacking fullback or a left wing-back. Halstenberg is a very good option at CB, and can rotate with Rüdiger or Ginter when required.
The midfield and attack gets even more interesting. With so much quality depth, Germany can afford some great substitutions as the games progress. Toni Kroos is a substitute for me, and as much as it might shock some of you, I don’t think he’ll be able to displace any of aforementioned midfielders. However, him and Florian Neuhaus are superb rotation options and can slot right in with a negligible drop in quality.
However, given that Löw loves his right hand man, it is also possible that he benches one of his top 3 midfielders to play the Greifswald native. And then we have the attacking positions. Jamal Musiala is a superb winger/AM who is a top bench option and should arguably start some games for Germany, but a lack of international football experience might work against him.
Jonas Hofmann is yet another top attacker who can play both as an inverted winger or in his preferred position, the AM. Hofmann has been nothing short of stellar for Gladbach of late, and we can expect him to play a significant role in the attack rotation. This man can show up big time when presented with an opportunity. We complete the list with Timo Werner (gasps from the crowd), who we can expect to be a bench player, but can be given a start if paired with someone like Kai Havertz or Kevin Volland.
Werner, as we all know by now, isn’t good as a lone striker. He needs a proper “9” or a physical false “9” beside him to be effective. Given that Löw really likes the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3, he could find himself on the outside looking in, unless deployed as an inverted winger or a second striker in a 4-4-2 formation.
Here, we will look at the players who are least likely to see any game time on the pitch. Yes, Löw could go full on harakiri mode and give these players regular starts, but let’s just assume that he picks his players based solely on quality. In that case, Robin Koch can expect to get the least minutes in defense. Yes, he is a bright talent and playing decently for Leeds, but it’s just difficult to see him start ahead of all the better defensive options available.
In the midfield, it’s just really difficult to envision Emre Can getting any significant minutes with Die Mannschaft arguably having world football’s best midfield collection. He can be a solid player on his day, but this feels like a long shot and I can’t help but think that he’d have to warm the bench most of the time.
The surprise picks
These are the picks that threw me (and possibly loads of other football fans around the world) out of the park. The first one is also the most obvious one — Volland. There was a time not so long ago (actually, since the 2014 WC to as recent as a week ago) when most Germany fans felt they might not see a proper “9” in the team for quite some time. Germany hasn’t been great with producing quality strikers of late, and it made sense to play Havertz/Reus as a false “9” in the majority of the games.
However, Löw had been overlooking a really good striker for quite some time. Volland was right there for all to see, which strong seasons with Leverkusen. But what might’ve really caught the coach’s eyes could be Volland’s performances as a “9” for Monaco. Under Kovac, Volland flourished in a striker-creator hybrid role, tallying 18 goals and 8 assists across all competitions this season. At 5’11”, Volland is a strong, quick striker who is good with both feet and also above average in the air.
Yes, Havertz can also play as a striker, but having a pure striker up front always feels good, especially when you have the likes of Müller and Kimmich feeding you with superb balls. This could be a huge boost for the entire team, and suddenly this attack looks way more potent and multi-dimensional. Really good pick, and I wonder if Hansi Flick had a hand in this.
The second surprise is Christian Günter (go Freiburg!), who I never would’ve imagined would feature in the Euros, but here we are. With stellar performance after performance in the Bundesliga, it’s no wonder that he got the call, which is completely deserved. The epitome of an attacking fullback/wingback, Günter has superb pace, a really strong left foot and great crossing ability.
Günter interchanges with the wingers often and also helps stretch the game to the flanks. He is also a very good defender, as Bayern witnessed in their 2-2 draw against Freiburg. Yes, Günter has no prior experience playing for Deutschland, but... better late than never, right?
We wrap up the surprise inclusions with the a very special one... another player who was removed from the NT (some would say very prematurely) close to 3 years ago by Löw. Hummels has been a top defender for about a decade now, and is still one of Germany’s best CBs. Him joining the squad is definitely a big boost and he would be an upgrade over any of the other LCB options.
I honestly didn’t think Löw was going to pick him, and I can’t be happier that he’s made the cut. It is fully deserved, and his leadership qualities will be crucial if Germany are to keep any clean sheets.
That concludes a very good squad, with a good balance of youth and experience. With good coaching and drive (a big if), I can see this side making a run to at least the semi-finals. Yes, I think this team is that strong.
So, what do you think of Germany’s squad? Do you see enough in this team to back them to deep into the competition? Let us know in the comments!