In this year’s UEFA European Championship, the Germans emerged from the “Group of Death” undefeated and secured a spot in the semifinals after an explosive, offensive quarterfinal against Greece. Germany’s team of young, offensive strikers lead the tournament in goals and have left everyone wondering if there is a team in this contest with the defense to stop them.
“The European Championship is like a Formula 1 race without the warm-up. You have to make a good start and get off the grid straight away; there are no easy games,” said German head coach, Joachim Löw, in a press conference after Germany’s first tournament victory over Portugal.
Mario Gomez, Germany’s highest-scoring forward in the tournament, has been brilliant against some of the European Championship's strongest teams—he netted the game-winning goal against Portugal and scored two goals against the Netherlands, the 2010 FIFA World Cup runner-up. These goals have Gomez locked in a four-way tie for the most goals in the tournament, alongside Alan Dzagoev of Russia, Mario Mandžukić of Croatia and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.
However Gomez hardly carries the German offense single-handedly like Cristiano Ronaldo arguably does for Portugal. Instead, Gomez is just one of many essential cogs in Germany’s relentless offense.
Leading the Euro 2012 in passing is forward Bastian Schweinsteiger—one of six German players in the top 10 for most passes in the tournament, which is an indicator of Germany’s cunning ability to move the ball in their opponent’s end.
German forward Lukas Podolski is the team’s go-to free kicker. Podolski scored the first goal against the Danes and his monstrous shot makes him a danger from anywhere in the 18-yard box.
Who will win the semifinal between Germany and Italy?
Germany’s midfielders are also getting the offensive job done effectively. Midfielder Lars Bender had a game-winning goal against Denmark, making him one of three German midfielders with a goal.
German Midfielder Mesut Özil has yet to score but is tied for most assists in the European Championship—two of which took place in the quarterfinal against Greece.
While Germany’s offense is firing on all cylinders, the team must tighten up its defense—especially when strong defensive teams like Italy and Spain are still alive in the tournament.
“We scored the first goal in the match, and then they scored, partly because we played too carelessly, and at some points also too slowly. We made some mistakes,” said German defenseman Phillipp Lahm in a press conference after the team’s quarterfinal victory against Greece. “We definitely have to avoid doing that in the semifinals.”
Italy and Spain thrive on taking chances away from their opposition and ultimately pose the biggest threat to the Germans. While strong offense is a valued asset to the Germans, the team must boost its defense to win the European Championship.