Euro 2020 Team Analysis
Life, as we know, knocks on our doors with the ups and downs on a constant basis. No life ever travels the road of eternal sunshine or unending dark clouds as to one’s likes or dislikes. It always surrenders to the universal law of ever-changing vicissitudes. So does football. The change of fortunes in football draws stark similarities as in life. Today’s champion becomes tomorrow’s losers and vice-versa. The notable downfalls of Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain, etc are events that juddered the World Football in
recent history. Germany drops in as the latest addition.
Turniermannschaft aka the tournament team is hailed as one of the most successful sides in the Football Arena since its inception. Their performances and the nicknames that come with them were earned by blood and sweat. Only very few teams in the globe can claim a legacy as great as Germany. Brazil stands the only exception in overlapping Germany when it comes to constant performances and trophies. But now the tables have turned and misery, the uninvited guest has affirmed its seat on the other end of it. The 4-time World Champions and 3 time European Cup winners are now thrashed to the backseat like never before. If last WC’s debacles initiated the fall, the present performances show that the climb ahead is tiresome.
Germany suffered massive defeats in the erstwhile WC under the hands of Mexicans and South Koreans. The only victory over Sweden was nothing but a stroke of last-minute luck, which eventually saw Germany get ousted in the group stage bagging a humiliating last place for the first time since 1938. The result was no surprise to be precise. Germany arrived at Russia with additional luggage which until then was absent in recent times; the pressure of champions and over-confidence.
To our surprise, the Confederation Cup victory in 2017 also played its part in the downfall. If Low’s audacious experiment to take down the Confederations with a bunch of young bloods succeeded in the first place, the colossal victory proved otherwise in the long run.
Current Form, En route to Euro, Recent achievements.
As reflected earlier, the current form begs no exceptions worth lauding considering the German standards. The 3 time Euro Champions (the highest), a record shared with Spain, had won 7 out of their 8 games in the Euro Qualifiers and topped the group ahead of Netherlands, N.Ireland, Belarus, and Estonia. By far, that’s the only relief that Germany can carry to the Euros.
Their performances in the Nations League call out why DFB shouldn’t relax anytime soon. La Roja hammered a heartbreaking 6 goals against Germany which gifted them their worst defeat ever in a competitive game. What makes it worse is the fact that a draw was all Germany needed to race to the finals and they bottled it for the worse.
Embarrassment against the minnow side North Macedonians, ranked 65, in the World Cup qualifiers depict the depth of misery. It was Germany's first home WC qualifying loss in 20 years. The feel-good factor that had been building up in the previous matches went away like a puff of air.
To sum up the current scenario, the Confederations Cup victory in 2017 stands as the only shining light in these gloomy years.
Predicted Line-up and Formation
Jogi Low has been rotating myriads of players in and out since the 2018 WC breakout. The endeavour saw a rapid shift in formations testing different styles and strategies. Germany’s departure from the traditional 4-2-3-1, which plays a lone striker, was the first of many that took shape later. Further experiments ranging from 4-3-3, 3-4-3 to a disastrous 3-5-2 ended up somehow, fixing the deal with 4-3-3.
Jogi Low’s obsession with possession football has reached adjournment. It seems that Low has realized that unending passes and possession won’t win you games. Not even near. So, Germany may return to their old ways, where attacking football occupies the front seat. With a whole lot of Bayern players packed in the squad, a perfect blend of counter-attacks, aggressive pressing and possession may see a new light.
As Germany possesses a lot of quick-paced and versatile players in the final third, the attacking department and strategies can be revamped quite effectively if it hits the right notch at the right time. When Gundogan roams around threatening up the field trying to find the gaps in the last third, Kimmich’s return to defensive midfield will provide an extra cover to the soring central defence.
The additional depth and talent in wing-backs solve the previous stint’s countless problems, where Germany lacked precision and composure in the attack. Their contribution on the flanks may energize the wings adding more ammunition to the attack.
The Bayern Munich winger has a stellar scoring record for Germany, having netted 15 times in 20 internationals, and is brimming with confidence going into his first major tournament with the national team. Gnabry usually plays on the wing or behind the striker at Bayern with Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski occupying that role. Gnabry’s electric pace, precision and outstanding ability to surpass the defenders within the blink of an eye and his dexterity in converting the smallest of opportunities into the back of the net would be critical to DFB in the coming Euro. His perfect eye for
the loosely hanging legs and capacity to threaten even the staunchest of defenders makes him a fox-in-the-box. Even if Gnabry is primarily a winger, his instinctive abilities and poacher mentality make it easy for Low to place him up anywhere in the front 3.
Gundogan had a tremendous series of seasons in the last couple of years. The Manchester City midfielder suits the perfect option for the modern-day midfielder. An elusive midfielder capable of controlling the tempo, pace, and style of attack and defence, Gundogan’s vision and aggression will jostle the midfield to more attacks. Since the previous playmaker, Toni Kroos’ role has transformed into a much more defensive role, Gundogan has emerged as the new man occupying his position. His admirable capacity to supercharge the final third, taking down the defenders, and propelling a shot when the team requires him to may prove to be a strong factor in reinforcing Germany’s stability in this Euro. Gundo’s defensive prowess is also one not to be written off.
The return of veterans Muller and Hummels is the best positive factor that Alemania can relish currently. The former World Cup winners have both the capacity and character to lead the team with their invaluable experience. Up next, the majority of the players in the current squad are returning to the national side after a successful club season. If Bayern shares the most number of in-form players, Champions League winners Chelsea and runners-up City also have their own contributions equipping an instrumental stint in the recent seasons. Also, no matter the odds, the 35-year-old sweeper-keeper, Manuel Neuer at back does the same job as it has done in the past; extend relief and diminish the pressure of Jogi Low and the back four.
The Germany side has a series of weakness that demands deliberate actions. The problems from the last WC still go unattended even after identifying the series of acute symptoms. Lack of a regular XI, a constant formation, a clinical striker, and a natural leader on-field are the main ones that need fixing at the earliest. A balanced formation and a regular set of players who possess a mutual understanding is the soul of any team and Germany severely lack it. Low’s poor decisions and applications are causing serious headaches for DFB in the mentioned areas.
Miroslav Klose and Schweinsteiger were the last best striker and captain Germany had respectively. Their departures left a big hole in the respective positions for the coming generation to fill. As anticipated, the legacies of the latter were arduous to pursue. Mario Gomez, Sandro Wagner, Kevin Volland, Lars Stindl etc, came and gave random solitary performances and left the appetite unfulfilled. Players like Thomas Muller, Timo Werner can score goals but aren’t clinical strikers that are ever-reliable. Low’s presence in the squad even after the last fallout burdened the side with the same old options and strategies with non-reaping nuances as exceptions. Low should have left long before, but now he has lived enough to see himself become the villain. The unavailability of World Class German managers like Klopp, Tuchel, Nagelsmann, and Flick also left Germany with no further options.
Germany has lost their vigour in counter-attacks, pressing and bombardment through the wings. A threatening side with razor-sharp overlaps and pinpoint passing ahead is a lost asset for years. That will indeed cost heavy repercussions.
DFB has announced their 23 men squad for the Euros. The recalling of Muller and Hummel may serve as a temporary relief to the ailing squad. Also, important is the fact that this Euro marks Low’s last tournament as the man in charge. Regardless of his awful records, let’s hope that Low chooses to be deliberate in how he throws his last dice. As Germany resides in the death group with France and Portugal, getting out of the group stands the first hurdle. As Hungary too isn’t in a stage to be written off, a quarter-final berth is farthest that Germany can desire as per the current form. A draw against France, a narrow victory against Portugal and Hungary may seal the ticket if it gets done. Home advantage at Allianz Arena makes it equally exciting and worrisome. Another heavy defeat at home is unimaginable for both Low and DFB.
A semi-final or final entry being too unlikely as of the present form, one can only wait and watch what’s about to be unleashed. As former Bayern gaffer Flick is about to join the team soon after the Euros, permanent solutions and consolation only apply after the tournament.
Gramsci is what comes to mind in the end – “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will”. Anyway, let’s hope for the better, eh.