Germany: Euro 2008 Report Card
It will be very important for Germany to play well in their group at Euro 2008, because the teams are not very good. Their group foes—Austria, Poland, and Croatia—are in no way as talented and experienced as "Die Mannschaft."
That being said, the German squad will need to overcome injuries to compete for the championship.
Here's how the team is looking as of now (Euro 2008 starts June 7th):
The 4-3-3 format is generally what Joachim Loew employs:
GK: Jens Lehmann, Arsenal
Although Lehmann was the number one goalie in the World Cup in 2006, he isn't even the number one on his club team, Arsenal. This may pose a number of problems for the German side, as Lehmann hasn't been getting significant playing time over the past year.
However, Lehmann is a solid shot stopper with a number of years under his belt. Hopefully for the Germans, he will return to his '06 form, when he was one of the best goalkeepers in the entire World Cup.
D: Christoph Metzelder, Real Madrid
It remains to be seen how well Metzelder will perform after undergoing foot surgery, but the Germans need this veteran to play well in Euro 2008. He was a large part of the success Germany had in the World Cup, and if his injury is still bothering him, Metzelder will be more a negative than a helper.
D: Per Mertesacker, Werder Bremen
Mertesacker has always been the best defender for Werder Bremen, and is consistent in his games. He wins the majority of 50/50 balls in the air, using his 6'6" frame, and will firm up the middle of the backline for the Germans. I am very confident with this pick by Jogi Loew.
D: Philipp Lahm, FC Bayern Muenchen
This is no surprise. Lahm is an incredible talent. He is quick enough to stay with the fastest players in the world, and can also contribute to the offensive side of the ball.
Lahm, who put in the first goal in the '06 World Cup, also scored a goal in the European qualifying, so there is no doubt in my mind that he will perform extremely well.
D: Arne Friedrich, Hertha Berlin
If you think Lahm is fast, than Friedrich might just be the fastest defender in the Bundesliga. He is a very reliable defender and will fit in well with the other three starters. The Hertha captain is a great choice by Loew.
M: Michael Ballack, Chelsea
"Der Kapitaen" had a wonderful season for Chelsea, helping them to the finals of the Champions League. Ballack's game has come on of late, and Germany must play through Ballack to win the Euro 2008 title.
It is so vital for the Germans that Ballack play up to his form of this season. That being said, Ballack will absolutely answer his critics, and perform admirably.
M: Torsten Frings, Werder Bremen
Frings showed the world what he could do with his outstanding performance in the '06 World Cup, and now it is time to show Europe his dominance once more.
Frings and Ballack form possibly the best midfield tandem in Euro 2008, and I expect Frings to have another stellar performance for his country. Frings is touted as the next captain once Ballack is done with his international career.
M: Sebastian Schweinsteiger, FC Bayern Muenchen
Despite an injury this season, Schweinsteiger looked good in Euro 2008 qualifying, having scored three goals. It is quite simple for Schweinsteiger, as he is coupled with two of the best players in the Euro '08 competition. Hopefully, he will return from injury to show his form from qualifications, as well as his tremendous performance in WC 2006.
F: Miroslav Klose, FC Bayern Muenchen
Klose had an excellent 2007/08 campaign for Bayern, scoring 21 goals in 47 appearances. Everyone in the world knows who Klose is, after he led the 2006 World Cup in goals.
Germans must hope that Klose can continue his worldwide dominance for another month. If so, Germany is almost a lock to reach the finals.
F: Mario Gomez, VfB Stuttgart
You may not have heard of him, but this kid is legit. At just 23 years of age, Gomez netted 28 goals in 32 appearances for VfB Stuttgart in the 2007/08 season. In fact, he was recognized as the best German soccer player just a year ago in a competition that excluded even Ballack.
Gomez can run down the middle of the field and score in a hurry, or settle down and play finesse ball. The only thing I am scared of with Gomez is his inexperience. Although he has played several years in the Bundesliga, his international experience is limited. That being said, he has yet to let that affect him.
Watch out, Euro 2008, Gomez is here.
F: Lukas Podolski, FC Bayern Muenchen
Rounding up the forward group for the Germans is energetic Lukas Podolski.
The only qualms I have with this young speedster is that he hasn't been seeing the field much, because he played behind the Italian superstar Luca Toni.
If Podolski can play well, and not let his temper get the best of him, the Germans may be in good shape. Another nice option is Kevin Kuranyi. Even if Podolski doesn't perform well, Kuranyi is an excellent choice, as he played quite well for Schalke 04 this season.
Overall, I feel as though this is the Germans' title to win.
Yes, I know Italy and France played in the World Cup 2006 Final, but the German squad is looking stronger than ever, and they have probably the weakest group match-ups out there.
So let's go Germany, bring the Euro 2008 back to Deutschland!
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