Just two years ago, Germany were crowned World Champions after an extra-time victory over Argentina in Brazil. This year they will be hoping to follow France and Spain in becoming the only nations to hold the titles of European and World Champions simultaneously.
However, the squad is weaker now than it was in Brazil, and with the defence in particular lacking experience, they could struggle to take the title in France.
For almost a decade, Phillip Lahm and Per Mertesacker were at the heart of a very strong German defence that was a huge part of their World Cup winning side in 2014. Yet, both felt the time was right to bow out of international football on a high, retiring soon after the tournament had finished.
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Although they qualified, Germany didn’t have the most convincing preparation for the tournament, topping their group by just one point and losing to the Republic of Ireland. They will certainly have to up their game if they are to succeed in France.
Mats Hummels hasn’t looked particularly comfortable at centre-back on the international stage, and he goes into the Euros with an injury that could see him miss the opening group game and possibly more.
Joachim Low will also be unable to call upon Antonio Rudiger, who has been ruled out with injury after an impressive season with Roma in Serie A.
In terms of centre-backs, this leaves them with Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng and Jonathan Tah. Without Hummels, Boateng becomes a key member of the back four because of his strong performances with Bayern Munich and his international experience.
Howedes is likely to partner Boateng at centre-back if Hummels is unavailable, but this isn’t a partnership that has played much football together, so that could cause problems as well.
The Germans will likely face a hostile atmosphere in France, so it is important that the defenders in particular can trust their team-mates, and that could be difficult for Boateng and Howedes.
We all know the problems that Germany can cause going forward with the likes of Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil, so that shouldn’t be a concern. However if they are going to have any sort of success in France, the defence needs to be as strong as possible.
Will Germany win Euro 2016? Have your say in the comments.
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