Euro 2012 Predictions: 7 Reasons Germany Will Dominate
As of October 26th, there are 225 days until the kickoff of the Euro 2012. With qualification nearly over, fans are already looking forward to the competition and writers are just dipping their feet in.
Taking place for only the second time in Eastern Europe, it is common knowledge Poland and the Ukraine were selected to host the event and are automatically qualified. The only thing left now is the identities of the other 15 teams participating, nine of which are already decided.
As of September 2nd, Germany had officially qualified for the tournament and were the first team participating in qualifying to do so.
Looking ahead to the competition, here are seven reasons Germany will come out on top:
Performance in Qualifying
As mentioned before, aside from Poland and the Ukraine, who automatically qualified, Germany was the first nation to qualify for the group stage of the summer contest.
Not only that, but the Central-European country was the only team to remain perfect in a group consisting of six teams. In games against Turkey, Belgium, Austria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, Germany managed to collect maximum points and not lose nor tie one game.
Not once in all 10 games have Germany even been behind a goal and only once were tied during a game. The once was against Austria at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in the Austrian capital of Vienna and that game ended 1-2 for the Germans.
Thirty-four was the number of goals Germany scored in the qualifying; it was the second-highest amount of goals scored. This is eight more than current Euro and World Cup holders Spain.
The Young Players
The young players emerging from Germany, at the moment, are plenty. Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Toni Kroos, Marko Marin, Moritz Leitner, Sven and Lars Bender, Alexander Merkel, Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Lewis Holtby...the list goes on.
All under the age of 22, nine of the listed players out of 11 players have already capped for the A-team. A number of them also have a huge shot of making the final cut and traveling to Poland/Ukraine in the summer of 2012, of course not all.
Having such youthful players could cause opposing teams issues as they try to keep up. Not only are the players young, they are also very talented. More to Germany's advantage.
They are players who are dangerous on the ball and passionate. They are the future, if not the present, of Germany. My prediction: At least four will most likely be chosen to travel.
Mixture of Young and Old
A team of young players by themselves is often inexperienced and therefore ineffective in such a big competition.
While Germany has many young, talented players, they are, of course, not all comprised of these young players. Therein lies their advantage.
The experienced Germans like Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger, to name a few, can lead and teach the younger players. These learning players can be a force to reckon with on the field with their raw talent and ability.
To disclaim, many of the young players are experienced on a club level, but are still in need of that same experience on an international level.
These young players are learning every training and will have much experience by the time the Euro rolls around. To the benefit of their nation.
Currently, the top three striker options for Germany are Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski. Not too bad.
After leaving Bayern Munich due to lack of playing time, Polish-born Miroslav Klose has started his first season with new club Lazio Roma well. Already playing six games, he has netted four times.
After capping 112 times, he has the second-most caps, behind only the legendary Lothar Mattaus. Also second on the top-scorer list with 62 strikes, Klose only has to net six times to catch up with Gerd Muller.
Not only that, but in every Euro qualifier he played, he managed to score at least one—often more than once, mind you.
Mario Gomez, like Miroslav at one point, plays for Bundesliga-contending Bayern Munich. Winning the Canon for top scorer of the Bundesliga, the half-Spanish Gomez is often chosen above Klose in the starting lineup.
For country, it is the opposite. The German-Pole is ahead in the picking order and Gomez is only given an opportunity when Klose is being rested or is injured. When given such an opportunity, the striker capitalizes, scoring six goals in six appearances in the Euro qualifiers.
Against Austria, Gomez scored the opening goal, just before halftime in the 44th minute. Only five minutes into the second half, Austria equalized from an Friedrich own-goal. The game looked to be a tie until Gomez struck the winner for Germany in the dying minutes.
1. FC Koln man Lukas Polodski often takes position of winger for club and country. Only playing eight games in the current season for the Bundesliga outfit, "Prinz Poldi" has already scored six goals. He has taken part in the Bronze-winning 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the Euro 2004 and the second-place finish at Euro 2008.
In the recent Euro qualifiers, Podolski has participated in all as a winger. He has scored three goals, one apiece against Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and neighbours Austria. Podolski also had three assists.
With these three as choices for striker, Germany looks set to score a high amount of goals.
Germany has a number of talented midfielders and Joachim Low will have some difficult decisions to make when choosing who to take. Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger are just a few of the options.
Defensive midfielder Sami Khedira has played for many DFB youth teams and made his full debut against South Africa in 2009, replacing Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes. Around a year later he made the final cut to travel to South Africa for the World Cup. He has made a total of 48 appearances for his current side, La Liga contenders Real Madrid.
Half-Tusinian Khedira is a talented defending midfielder and will no doubt come in handy. Not only does he have the bronze medal of Germany's World Cup 2010 campaign, he has also won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart and the Copa del Rey with Real Madrid. Both were won in his first season with each club.
Taking part in the majority of Germany's qualifiers for the upcoming Euro, he provided two assists. In the eight appearances he made, only four goals were conceded.
Bavarian-born Thomas Muller is a mentally strong and all-around talented attacking midfielder. A product of Bayern Munich's youth academy, 22-year-old Muller often takes the central midfield position in the German midfield trio.
Travelling with Germany to the 2010 World Cup, Muller was honoured with the Golden Boot for his five goals and three assists and the Best Young Player Award, over Ghanian Andre Ayew and Mexican Giovanni dos Santos. Not to mention being shortlisted for the Ballon d'Or.
Providing seven assists in total, the Bayern Munich man started all 10 of Germany's Euro 2012 qualifiers and helped to ensure they made it to the Poland-Ukraine-based competition.
Bayern Munich vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a long-time choice for Germany. Playing in every international competition with the Germans since the Euro 2004, which includes two World Cups, two Euros and a Confederations Cup.
"Basti" or "Schweini," as he is often called, took part in five of Germany's Euro qualifiers this season. Providing an assist against Kazakhstan; he also scored an 86th-minute penalty against Turkey at the Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Having Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger among others as main options for the midfield, Germany's starting midfield looks like a frightening one.
Wondering why he wasn't on the previous slide? He gets his own slide!
Real Madrid starting midfielder Mesut Ozil transferred from Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen for the cut price of just €15 million. An amazing deal for such a talented player.
A passer with tremendous vision, the 23-year-old third-generation Turkish-German has been called up for the A-team 28 times after helping the U-21 team win the European Championship in 2009.
Travelling to South Africa with Germany to compete in the World Cup, he returned with the most assists, more than even superstars like Xavi. While there, the midfielder netted against Ghana which saw Germany move into the Round of 16. In big games, like those against rivals England and South-Americans Uruguay, the young German rose to the occasion, assisting a goal in each game.
He was also nominated among 10 other players for the Golden Ball award.
Ozil had a total of nine appearances in this year's Euro qualifiers, netted a whole five times and assisting seven times.
In the upcoming Euro, having Ozil will no doubt help Germany triumph and hopefully see them make it to the end.
Horst Hrubesch, the U-21 Germany manager, said it best when he said:
We in Germany are prone to rave about foreign players. We praise Wayne Rooney to the heavens, likewise (Cristiano) Ronaldo or Messi. But we have our own Messi. Our Messi is Özil.
Germany's current No. 1 choice 'keeper also happens to be one of the best in the world.
The Gelsenkirchen-born, ex-Schalke captain has capped 24 times for the senior national team after spending time in the U-21, U-20, U-19 and U-18 levels. Along with winning the U-21 European Championship, Neuer also took home the award for Best Goalkeeper.
This earned him a spot in the final squad list for the 2010 World Cup. Playing six out of seven matches in the contest, he only conceded four goals, no more than a goal against per game. In the final match against Uruguay, he was demoted to the bench and two goals went against, the highest in one game during Germany's campaign.
He has played every minute of the Euro qualifiers and helped Germany remain perfect in their 10 games. During these games, only eight goals went past Neuer.
While playing his last season with Schalke 04, Neuer led his team to the semifinals of the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal. After announcing he would not renew his contract with the North-Rhein Westphalia-based club, he was sold to Bayern Munich with a price tag putting him in the history books as the second-most expensive goalkeeper.
The current season with Bayern Munich saw him go over a 1,000 minutes without conceding, which breaks the Bayern record.
Neuer is a talented risk-taker who will surely help Germany protect the net and dominate the Euro.