Euro 2020: Will Germany exceed expectations and will Kai Havertz be the star in Joachim Low's last tournament?
It's the final hurrah for Joachim Low this summer as he will step down from his role as Germany head coach following the tournament. Will he go out on a high or will Germany fall flat as they did at the 2018 World Cup? Our latest Inside Europe Q&A will give you an insight on what we can expect from the Germany.
After a humiliating group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup, all eyes will be on Germany to see if they can bounce back this summer.
Manager Joachim Low survived the fallout from three years ago but will step down after this tournament. He seems to have struggled to lift the side over the last year as they have lost to lowly North Macedonia and been thrashed 6-0 by Spain. But with a talented squad could they go deep at Euro 2020?
Peer Kuni of Eurosport Germany takes you Inside Europe...
Just regarding the individual class of the players Germany has one of best teams in the tournament behind France. Except for the full-back positions and the lack of a natural goal scoring striker like Karim Benzema, Ciro Immobile, Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo the quality and depth of the squad is huge. The return of Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels will increase the quality of the team again. Bayern players like Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Müller are in good shape additionally the three Champions League winners Antonio Rüdiger, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are full of confidence.
There are question marks behind Leon Goretzka who will likely miss the start of the tournament due to injury and Toni Kroos who just returned recently after his Covid-19 infection. In a difficult Group F a lot will rely on the first game against France. They should actually be behind France battling for the second place against Portugal but if they can get a good result against France than they could get momentum. A great start to the tournament was always the key for a deep run in tournaments from 2008 to 2016.
The 7-1 defeat of Latvia looks impressive but they drew with Denmark and lost against North Macedonia in their last two outings...
Latvia of course is not the benchmark but it was important to get some confidence for the players before starting the tournament. There was a good game flow offensively and even the substitutes like Werner or Leroy Sané quickly adapted in that game. Defensively the last two games were a complete turnaround to the games before ending with that huge upset against North Macedonia.
The defence has been struggling enormously for a couple of years, allowing the opponent consistently too many chances to score. The stability defensively with Hummels, Rüdiger and Matthias Ginter as centre-backs will be a key for succeeding against the top teams at Euro 2020. Against Latvia and Denmark in each game Germany just allowed one good chance for the opponent to score – and they did in both games.
imo Werner of Germany celebrates after scoring his team's sixth goal with teammates during the international friendly match between Germany and Latvia at Merkur Spiel-Arena on June 7, 2021 in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Image credit: Getty Images
Will Kroos, Muller and Hummels be able to last a month of intense international football and should Joachim Low have brought them back?
Starting with the second part there is only one answer: yes. Müller and Hummels still have so much quality Löw cannot take that risk playing without. Defensively the German team played so much better with Hummels organising from his centre-back position. And Müller always has that special unique something that only Müller has. He is unpredictable and impossible to defend against for 90 minutes. And he is the loudspeaker within the squad on the pitch that the others follow. Both Hummels and Müller are key players.
Especially Müller will not have a problem with that many games in short time. He is used to playing every three days with Bayern Munich. And Hummels is a regular player for Borussia Dortmund who is rarely injured. They are both at the beginning of their 30's. There are no concerns that they both will perform on a high level throughout the tournament.
Kroos is the question mark here after his Covid-19 infection. The good thing for Löw is that unlike in recent years he has plenty of alternatives in central midfield. Ilkay Gündogan is a no brainer, Kimmich might play right-back, but there are still players like Florian Neuhaus, Emre Can and Jamal Musiala and also Leon Goretzka who will return during the tournament and is a regular player with Bayern Munich. So there is no pressure that Kroos needs to play 90 minutes every game. But Löw will play Kroos as he is one of the most consistent players he has faith in.
Toni Kroos hat sich mit dem Coronavirus infiziert
Image credit: Getty Images
Who is the team's most important player?
Müller, Kimmich and Hummels are the players the other ones look up to and follow their lead. Gündogan can be the "difference maker". He played superbly last season with Man City and just missed out on winning the Champions League in Porto. He unfortunately often battled with injuries in the past before the international tournaments but now he is healthy, in great shape and motivated to make an impact both offensively and defensively.
Havertz was good against Latvia - how important is he to this team?
He was outstanding, and also in the second leg against Real Madrid and in the Champions League final. He proved he can step up in the most important games of the season. And with that boost of confidence and his ability to read games and to make the right decisions he will be a key player for Germany in the offensive line-up. He should be a starter against France and will often be switching positions will Gnabry and Müller. With his ability both to score (even in the air) and playing the final pass he is very important for the team.
Kai Havertz überzeugte gegen Lettland im DFB-Dress
Image credit: Getty Images
What is Germany's biggest weakness?
With Lukas Klostermann injured at the moment there is only one right-back in the squad. Löw has played Kimmich as a central midfielder but it seems like after the Latvia game he might start at right-back again in the tournament. If so it will be interesting to see how Löw will replace Kimmich in central midfield against top teams like France or Portugal because with Kroos and Gündogan it would be more like an attacking line-up where the typical defensive midfielder would be missing. Can could be an alternative solution.
What will represent a successful tournament?
Firstly to get back the support and the attention of the German supporters who were disappointed with the way they played in the last three years. Secondly they should survive the group stage and should get away with some decent results against France and Portugal. After that disappointment in Russia the quarter-finals should be the minimum target, semis would be a success in Löw's final dance.