Ranking Germany's Players on Their Euro 2016 Performances
Germany fell short in their hunt for Euro 2016 glory, a 2-0 semi-final defeat at the hands of host nation France ending the dream of adding to the country's impressive collection of trophies.
For most nations, making it to the last four is a massive success, but for the world champions, it's about par for the course. It was their sixth consecutive appearance in the final four of a major tournament, and anything other than the Coupe Henri Delaunay just wasn't good enough.
Ever improving over the course of the tournament, the World Cup holders looked like the best team after a somewhat bumpy start that resulted in a 2-0 win over Ukraine, which exposed some defensive frailties, and a drab goalless draw against Poland.
A 1-0 win over Northern Ireland didn't do their performance justice before they swept away Slovakia 3-0 in the round of 16. The highlight of the Euros from a German perspective came in the quarter-finals, where they finally got past bogey team Italy for the first time in a competitive match. The dramatic win on penalties probably goes down as the most positive memory.
Then came the hosts in Marseille and a wholeheartedly avoidable defeat that has left a sour taste in the mouths of players, coaches and fans.
In that match, not enough players were close to their best, while Germany's depth didn't pass the test with a few key players out through suspension or injury.
Of course, there were a number of standout performances and performers throughout Germany's three-and-a-half weeks in France.
Here Bleacher Report ranks every player on his showings at the Euros.
Players Who Didn't Play or Barely Played
Head coach Joachim Low doesn't like to make too many changes during a tournament. Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with five players—the two substitute goalkeepers and three outfielders—not seeing the field at all and a further three players spending less than 60 minutes on the pitch across the seven matches.
At the Euros, four players didn't play a single minute: goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Bernd Leno, centre-back Jonathan Tah, a late call-up when Antonio Rudiger tore his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp, and midfielder Julian Weigl.
The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man was closest to an appearance, as he was the alternative to Bastian Schweinsteiger for the semi-final against France, the team captain needing to overcome a knee problem to feature.
Further, Leroy Sane only played 11 minutes against France, while Lukas Podolski played 18 against Slovakia.
The 31-year-old's inclusion in the squad was baffling considering he hasn't done anything for the national team in years. "That I am called a mascot is impudent," the Galatasaray forward said ahead of the tournament, per Miguel Delaney for ESPN FC.
The truth can never be impudent, however. Podolski had no business making the squad and predictably was a nonfactor.
17. Andre Schurrle
Wolfsburg attacker Andre Schurrle remained one of Low's preferred options from the bench at the Euros. Incredibly, the 25-year-old has started only 18 of his 55 games for Germany.
Unlike two years ago in Brazil, where he assisted Mario Gotze's winner in the World Cup final against Argentina, he failed to make much of an impact in three substitute appearances at the Euros, playing only in the group stage. It was notable that Sane, not the vastly more experienced Schurrle, was Low's last throw of the dice against France.
16. Emre Can
Emre Can played in only one match, somewhat surprisingly getting the start against France. That explains why, despite a solid performance in the match, he's ranked so low on our list.
Low inserted the versatile Liverpool man into his starting XI when Sami Khedira was ruled out with an injury. The 22-year-old added some much-needed power and did fairly well. Germany's biggest chance of the first half fell to him, but Hugo Lloris brilliantly saved Can's deflected attempt.
He left the pitch after 67 minutes, making way for an attacking player in Gotze with Germany needing a goal to level the match.
15. Mario Gotze
Euro 2016 was not Mario Gotze's tournament.
The 24-year-old started the first two games up front, where crosses repeatedly flew over his head and he was so cut off from his team-mates that he continued to leave his position to get a touch of the ball. Quite simply, he wasn't up to the task of leading the line.
Finally put in a position more suited to his strengths, the Bayern Munich attacker looked much more lively against Northern Ireland. He did, however, miss a big chance to score and was taken off soon thereafter.
He didn't play again until the semi-final, where he made little to no impact as a substitute, getting all of seven touches in 24 minutes of play, per WhoScored.com.
14. Thomas Muller
Arguably one of the biggest disappointments of the entire tournament, Thomas Muller highlighted a Germany attack that struggled to get going for large portions of the Euros.
The 26-year-old's infamous scoring drought at European Championships now stretches over 11 matches.
"Asked for a quick word on his goal-less Euros, Muller, the man who was supposed to be Germany's [Antoine] Griezmann, answered with an expletive," Raphael Honigstein wrote for ESPN FC. "It wasn't meant as a curse, more as a descriptive noun."
Playing him in every game from start to finish, Low kept hoping something would click for Muller, but it never happened.
13. Bastian Schweinsteiger
It was a small miracle Bastian Schweinsteiger even made the squad after the injury-riddled season he had with Manchester United, but the team captain was never going to miss the Euros if there was a chance he could contribute in some way.
And contribute he did, scoring with his first touch as a substitute against Ukraine. The 31-year-old also held up surprisingly well against Italy, replacing the injured Khedira after only 15 minutes and going all the way until the penalty shootout. There, of course, he could've ended things early but skied his attempt.
It's quite the story that, of all people, it had to be Schweinsteiger who gave away a silly penalty for handling the ball in the semis, as his team had almost been in cruise control for the majority of the first half against France.
Once the hosts went in front thanks to Schweinsteiger's blunder, Germany's Euro campaign was doomed. With injuries taking their toll over the years, this could well be the end of the line for the captain.
If he indeed hangs up his boots at international level, here's hoping the loss against France will be nothing more than a footnote on a fabulous Germany career.
12. Sami Khedira
Schweinsteiger's longtime partner in central midfield, Sami Khedira, had an up-and-down tournament.
An important leader on and off the pitch, the Juventus man was clearly hampered physically and missed the bulk of the quarter-final and the entire semi-final.
It would be saying too much if one argued he was missed, however. His performances in the group stage and against Slovakia were OK but nothing more.
With so much talent coming up from the youth ranks for Germany, chances are it was the 29-year-old's last tournament as a regular starter.
11. Shkodran Mustafi
Shkodran Mustafi was thrust into a starting role when Rudiger tore his ACL. After not playing in either of the two warm-up matches ahead of the Euros despite being fit, it could have been a bit of a gamble.
The Valencia defender, however, proved to be a dependable replacement for Rudiger—or, rather, Mats Hummels, who missed the first match of the Euros with an injury—against Ukraine while also scoring his team's first goal in France.
His only other appearance came against the hosts, replacing the injured Jerome Boateng for the final half-hour.
10. Joshua Kimmich
Versatile Bayern Munich youngster Joshua Kimmich burst onto the scene against Northern Ireland, starting at right-back for only his second international cap.
A more natural midfielder, the versatile 21-year-old was a big part of Germany's two best attacking displays, against the Green and White Army and Slovakia, impressing with his passing range and technical skills.
However, he showed his inexperience defensively on a number of occasions, most notably ahead of France's second goal in the semi-final, losing the ball in his own penalty box.
The future is his, but it remains to be seen where he best fits for Germany. His performances as a makeshift right-back were encouraging if nothing else.
9. Jonas Hector
A solid yet entirely unspectacular workmanlike presence on Germany's left wing, Jonas Hector will go into the history books for one kick of a ball.
It was the Cologne defender's penalty that ended the crazy shootout in Bordeaux against Italy—and Germany's trauma against their bogey team.
The 26-year-old was the unlikeliest of heroes, for he's the only player not to come out of one of the country's great academies, playing lower-league football until he was 20 years of age.
One of four outfield players to play every second of every game, Hector didn't wow with his performances by any stretch of the imagination, but he was reliable.
8. Benedikt Howedes
Another superbly dependable player, Benedikt Howedes played in no fewer than three positions in Germany's defence, appearing in all six matches of their matches at the tournament.
He started at right-back against Ukraine and Poland, where he looked a bit shaky against Yevhen Konoplyanka in the opening match, moved to right centre-back when Germany went with three at the back against Italy and finally played in his best position next to Boateng in a regular four-man defence against France.
His best performance came against Italy, against whom he "did brilliantly," according to Low, per the German Football Association on Twitter. The 56-year-old called the lifelong Schalke man a "useful player," which arguably sold him a bit short.
As far as multipurpose back-ups go, Howedes is one of the best.
7. Julian Draxler
Marco Reus' loss was Julian Draxler's gain. As the Borussia Dortmund forward tragically missed another tournament through injury, the 22-year-old picked up the slack.
He had his coming-out party at the international level in the round-of-16 match against Slovakia, during which he made defenders look stupid with brilliant take-ons, produced one of the best assists of the tournament and scored the 3-0 dagger himself.
It was one of the best individual performances from any player at the Euros and certainly the best from a German attacker in France.
6. Mario Gomez
One of the best stories to follow, Mario Gomez had a veritable renaissance with the national team at Euro 2016.
After featuring sparingly between Euro 2012 and autumn of 2015, the 31-year-old made the squad thanks to a good season on loan at Besiktas, winning the Turkish League and its golden boot.
He looked far better leading the line than Gotze, scored twice in his three starts and proved he's much more than a poacher waiting for his chance in the box. The way he made Mesut Ozil's goal against Italy possible with a drifting run toward the left wing and a well-timed pass into Hector's path was a sight to behold from such a big man.
One has to wonder whether Germany, not Portugal, would be celebrating winning Euro 2016 had Gomez not suffered a muscle injury against Italy. Without him, "Germany had a thousand spoons when all they needed was a knife to cut open the French defense," as Stephan Uersfeld wrote for ESPN FC.
5. Mats Hummels
Mats Hummels is what Germans call a "Turnierspieler," a player who looks his absolute best every two years wearing his country's colours.
He and Boateng formed a fantastic centre-back partnership once he got healthy. It's no coincidence Germany didn't concede a goal from open play with these two on the pitch.
Impeccable defensively and displaying his playmaking abilities, especially against Italy from his spot at left centre-back in the three-man defence, Hummels was one of the best defenders in a tournament flush with strong performers at the heart of many a back line.
4. Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil was the only attacking player to come close to top form for the world champions—for all his strong performances, Gomez didn't even play half of the 570 possible minutes.
Masterfully orchestrating his side's play in the final third, it wasn't down to the Arsenal man's performances that Germany struggled. On the contrary, had his team-mates played up to the standards set by the 27-year-old, the World Cup holders would probably have been having a big party in Berlin on Monday.
As it happened, Ozil's brilliance will largely go unappreciated once more.
3. Toni Kroos
Arguably the best player of Euro 2016 in the group stage, Real Madrid's Toni Kroos levelled off a bit in the knockout rounds. He was still one of, if not the best central midfielder of the tournament.
Germany's pass master, the 26-year-old completed far more passes (593) than any other player at Euro 2016, per Opta. And according to Squawka, he played more than the great Xavi Hernandez did when Spain won in 2012.
This writer argued ahead of the tournament that Kroos has developed into Germany's boss on the pitch, and his performances in France reflected that standing. He will remain an anchor in midfield for years to come.
2. Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer confirmed his status as the best goalkeeper in the world with a strong tournament in France.
The 30-year-old conceded only one goal that wasn't a penalty, and even though he wasn't free of guilt for Antoine Griezmann's 2-0 dagger in Marseille, Neuer's performances themselves are the main reason for that.
The Bayern star was simply insuperable in the other games, repeatedly making incredible saves when he had little to do all game. His time to shine came in the shootout against Italy—and, of course, he delivered the goods.
Captaining his side when Schweinsteiger wasn't on the field, Neuer led by example.
1. Jerome Boateng
Jerome Boateng was Germany's best player at Euro 2016. Despite strong performances from Neuer, Kroos or Ozil, it wasn't particularly close.
"Boateng grew into a natural leader role on and off the pitch," Uersfeld wrote. "A spectacular clearance off the line against Ukraine was followed by a fine volley vs. Slovakia, as well as consistent defending, high pressing and spectacular passes across the field."
Had the Bayern defender not been hampered by injuries throughout Germany's three-and-a-half weeks in France, he might have single-handedly won the trophy for his country.
The tournament looked over for the World Cup holders the second Boateng had to leave the field against France. Sure enough, it took the hosts not even 15 minutes to score the first and only goal from open play Germany conceded at the Euros.
Following his incredible performance in the World Cup final against Argentina and two strong years at Bayern, Boateng's Euros firmly established him as one of, if not the best centre-back in the world.