Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Joachim Löw's Euro 2016 Germany squad is a blend of experience, youth and loyalty

After an interminable and lengthy presentation featuring, celebrity guests, ambassadors, montages and tedious recollections of past glories, the German national team coach Joachim Löw introduced and explained his preliminary 27 man squad for the forthcoming Euro 2016 tournament in France.
Löw has called upon the tried and tested in Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes, Sami Khedira, Kroos, André Schürrle, Mesut Özil and of course Thomas Müller. Available too is Marco Reus who would definitely have made the World Cup squad in 2014 had he been fit.

The squad also has an interesting selection of trusted but surprising choices in  Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Götze and young stars who have broken through this season such as Julian Brandt, Leroy Sané, Julian Weigl and Joshua Kimmich.

Of the former group, Götze is the hardest to explain. He has barely featured at Bayern Munich at is deemed surplus to requirements. But the contribution he has made to the team, in scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final, mixed with his doubtless if dormant talent seems to have given him a ticket to at least the preliminary squad. Löw will have to determine whether the former Dortmund star is fresh or stale.

Schweinsteiger has spent much of the latter part of the season injured. You would perhaps think that this would be a good opportunity for him to be omitted in favour of someone younger. But as Löw said "Bastian is the captain" and if there is a chance of him being fit in time, he will play. In fairness there is no arguing with his experience and influence in the dressing room.

The selection of Podolski has also raised a few eyberows. The Galatasaray player is considered to be well past his best and I would argue that even his best was not good enough to match the talent available to the coach. Löw explained his inclusion thus: "Lukas Podolski still has a great sporting value, even if some people cannot understand. Lukas can still bring the performance that we expect from him."

Of the youngsters, Brandt's selection is off the back off a sensational run of form that help lift Bayer Leverkusen’s to a third placed finish in the Bundesliga. The 20 year old attacking midfielder has scored six goals and provided three assists in the final eight games of the season, of which he appeared in seven.

Weigl has been sensational all season since making his 1. Bundesliga debut for Dortmund in August. A composed and almost flawless passer of the ball the former 1860 Munich player ,who was captain at 18, may not make the cut for the Euros but this is a prelude to a lengthy international career.

Sané is a trickster with a turn of pace and superb close control. He can beat players and get behind defences. I think he's was too inconsistent at Schalke and needs some more seasoning before he is ready. But his selection represents a statement of intent but Löw and should be applauded.

Kimmich, was the young defender who was subject to that intense and bizarre lecture from his coach Pepe Guardiola after the 0-0 draw at Dortmund in March. "I told him that he's perhaps one of the best centerbacks in the world," Guardiola told the press conference after that game. "He's got the desire, the will, the passion. He's got absolutely everything."

Notable omissions include Paris Saint-Germain 'keeper Kevin Trapp, Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer and Matthias Ginter. Also missing is Bayer Leverkusen’s  Christoph Kramer.

Despite their poor performance in qualifying Germany should be very confident of going deep in France. This is a balanced squad with players very much at the peak of their powers. The challenge for Löw is to get the shape right in time for their opening group match against Ukraine on 12th June. Germany will warm up with friendlies against Slovakia on 29th May against Hungary on 6th June.