Germany emerging as the clear favourite in bottom half of the draw

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Germany’s 3-0 demolition of Slovakia hailed all the hallmarks of a team finding its best form at the right time to win their second successive tournament.

Although Slovakia was perhaps the weakest team left in the draw, England, another touted pre-tournament favourite, failed to score against the same opposition the round before. An arsenal containing Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, and Harry Kane should have been more than enough firepower.

Slovakia also beat Germany 3-1 in a warm-up friendly on May 29.


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In fairness to Germany, the scoreline barely did them credit. They looked like a team seamlessly slipping between only second and third gear, and with plenty more in reserve for the tougher trips ahead.

For the rest of their side of the draw, the Germans are starting to display some genuinely worrying danger signs. Such is their monopoly on the ball, their goal has been rarely threatened. In fact, they haven’t conceded a goal in France so far. By this stage two years ago in Brazil, they had already conceded three.

With the imperious Manuel Neuer behind them, the German defence is looking more increasingly sound by the game. Jonas Hector and, more recently, Joshua Kimmich are emerging as inventive additions on the flanks next to the immovable Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in the middle.

In midfield, Sami Khedira’s experienced defensive positioning is providing an effective balance to his more attack-minded teammates, as well as providing adequate protection in front of the defence.

Toni Kroos has dictated the flow and direction of the passing game, whether short or long, and has received ample time on the ball for what he decides is the best option. His next opponents must press him high up the pitch and ensure he is not allowed to initiate these phases of passing to the plethora of weapons at his disposal in front of him.

Mesut Ozil has been gliding around the final third as he pleases, finding pockets of space time and time again. Were it not for the poor finishing from his teammates, he would have more than just one assist to his name so far. Expect that to change rapidly.

Most ominous of all perhaps is the re-emergence of the undoubted talents of Julian Draxler.

He has added a vital component to this German attack - pace. In this respect, along with his abundance of skilful trickery, he is ironically very ‘un’ German; though he is precisely what they need to help unlock more resolute defences awaiting his team from this stage onwards.

Surprisingly Thomas Muller is still to break his goal drought. Though if he continues to get in good positions you suspect he will take one of the many generously provided chances the likes of Ozil and Kroos continue to provide.

Perhaps even more surprising is the re-emergence of another player, Mario Gomez. The veteran striker has adjusted well to life back leading the German front line with two goals in his last two appearances. He is becoming more ‘Klose’ like for this team by the game.

With Mario Gotze, Leroy Sane, and Andre Schurrle in reserve there are many attacking options to bring on during each tie to freshen up the attack if needed.

It is not just in open play Germany’s attack is strong; set pieces are proving to be a valuable source of goals. They have three from four games with two of those being decisive openers in the Ukraine and Slovakia matches.

Finally, three relics from the 2006 World Cup-winning Italy squad in Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, and Andrea Barzagli aside, no squad left in the tournament possesses a single player who has won a major international tournament in the last 10 years.

This puts the current World Cup-winning German squad psychologically at a significant advantage, not just on their own side of the draw, but potentially even in the final too, and could prove to be a critical factor in the "Nationalelf's" bid to reach the final and beyond.

They certainly have a formidable route left to the final but Germany are starting to display an authority and level reminiscent of their famous triumph two years ago.

For the bottom half of the draw, the alarm bells must be starting to ring that much louder.

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Germany Football
Mario Gotze
Euro 2016
Manuel Neuer

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