Our series of Euro 2020 previews concludes with a look at Germany, who have three Chelsea players in their squad and are hoping to send Joachim Low off on a high…
Germany – Group F
Low is leaving at the end of the tournament after 15 years in charge of the German national team. In that time, they have won the World Cup and reached the final of Euro 2008, as well as two other tournament semi-finals. However, following the shock group stage exit in Russia three years ago, Low will be wanting to finish with a flourish.
It will be no easy task for a largely young German side, for whom France and Portugal lie in wait in Group F. Uncertainty over selection and formation has been an issue since Russia, epitomised by Low’s decision to recall Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller two years after telling them their time with the national team was over.
A 6-0 thrashing in Spain last November and a World Cup qualifying defeat at home to North Macedonia earlier this year has set some alarm bells ringing, but there is still plenty of quality throughout the squad, not least in the form of Chelsea trio Kai Havertz, Toni Rudiger and Timo Werner.
History also dictates you write Germany off at your peril, and their three European Championship triumphs (1972, 1980 and 1996) is the joint-most in the competition.
There can be no doubt Group F is the ‘Group of Death’, with the most recent World Cup and Euros winners, France and Portugal, joining the Germans and Hungary.
Germany will be playing their group games in front of home supporters in Munich, which should help their cause, and their opening fixture against France is a tantalising prospect.
With four third-placed teams also qualifying, Germany know a victory over Hungary and a draw elsewhere will almost certainly be enough to see them safely through to the last 16. France are most people’s favourites and Portugal have been well backed, too, but Low and co might actually relish the unusual underdog tag in those fixtures.
Hungary favour three at the back and will seek to dig in against their more celebrated opponents, soak up pressure and threaten from set-pieces and counter-attacks. However, dropping points against Hungary could prove critical for any of the other three sides in the group.
It looks like Low will favour a 4-3-3 formation, with Havertz and Werner offering differing qualities in attack. Muller, Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala are other possible starters in the front three, but the form of Havertz and Werner in big European games at the end of the campaign can’t be ignored by Low.
Rudiger has also been outstanding in recent months and he was much missed in the heavy defeat to Spain. The 28-year-old, like Werner and Havertz appearing at his first European Championships, should complement Mats Hummels well in the heart of the Germany defence.
Germany v France, Munich, Tuesday 15 June, 8pm
Germany v Portugal, Munich, Saturday 19 June, 5pm
Germany v Hungary, Munich, Wednesday 23 June, 8pm
If Germany win the group, they will play a third-placed team in the round of 16.
If Germany come second, they will play the runner-up in Group D (England, Scotland, Croatia, Czech Republic).
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Defenders: Robin Koch (Leeds), Christian Gunter (Freiburg), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig), Robin Gosens (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Leon Goretzka, (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Timo Werner (Chelsea), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Kevin Volland (Monaco)