There is no major news or controversy around the German team; Joachim Löw remains the current national team coach and this is expected to have a positive effect on the team which has been steadily developed by him over the past six years.
Dortmund and Bayern players arrived later to the camp due to the DFB Pokal cup final (Dortmund) and the Champions League final a week later (Bayern). The Bayern players were rested for the first friendly game against Switzerland in Basel on 26th May, which resulted in a 5-3 loss for the Germans.
Media & Public Perception
Germany will be considered as one of the favourites to win the Euros with their young team gaining a further two years of club football experience after the last World Cup, where they had impressed already. Most of the players are playing for huge European clubs such as Real Madrid, the winners of La Liga, Champions League semi-finalists, Dortmund, who have won the Bundesliga.1 title twice in a row and Bayern München, the Champions League finalists for the second time in three years.
Morale in the Camp
Although there is a great rivalry between Bayern and Dortmund, the players are always professional when they meet each other with the national team. They might make jokes depending on which of the two teams were more successful but that’s about as far as the rivalry goes between the players. Experienced players such as Klose, Mertesacker and Podolski are still called for the national team despite injuries or patchy periods of form; this indicates that Löw does indeed put high emphasis on team hierarchy.
The fact that Bayern München did lose the UCL final at home, finishing the season with no titles at all is expected to have an influence. The other players and the coaching team will have to re-ignite the Bayern players’ confidence and this will not be an easy task.
Löw, 52, only signed a new contract with the German Football Federation in March and is expected to stay until the 2014 World Cup at least. Having been national team coach since August 2006, he has a good record since he took over from Jurgen Klinsmann, with 53 wins, 13 draws and 12 defeats (at the time of writing). Löw led his country to qualification for the Euro 2012 finals with a flawless 100% win record during the qualification stage.
Experienced players such as Klose, Mertesacker and Podolski are still called for the national team despite injuries or patchy periods of form
In regards to tactics, Löw is known to be a very intelligent and flexible coach but he usually prefers a modern 4-2-3-1 formation, which is interpreted with offensive pressing, when the team wins the ball back it results in creating goal-scoring opportunities very quickly (counter-attacking).
Löw has used friendly games not only to test several players but also several formations, such as a 3-5-2 formation, which he tested in order to be more flexible in-game and to practice being able to push even more offensively when trailing behind in a game.
Lukas Podolski, the FC Köln star who is making a big step in his career by moving to Arsenal this summer, is going into his 5th tournament preparation period with the German national team.
The Euros in Poland are special to Podolski as Poland is his original home where he still has a lot of family and friends. Unfortunately the team will play all group games in Ukraine, but Podolski is confident that the team will be capable of advancing from the group stage to eventually play in Poland. Podolski accepts the favourites tag Germany have been branded with, explaining that after losing the final in 2008 and the semi-final in 2010 against Spain they are due to win a title.
The 24 year old left-back Marcel Schmelzer is a regular starter for Borussia Dortmund, who finished at the top of Bundesliga. However, for the national team, Schmelzer has not yet been the solution to the full-back problem which Germany have struggled with for many years now and it remains to be seen whether he will be given the starting role at the tournament itself.
There have been a number of full-backs tried, including Badstuber, Boateng, Höwedes, Aogo, Jansen, Beck, Riether and Träsch, all tried to partner Philipp Lahm in the full-back positions. Prior to this tournament the question is again whether Lahm will play on the right or the left-back position; Schmelzer has proven to have the qualities to cover the left-back position with his club form for Dortmund, which could point to Lahm being deployed on the right side. Schmelzer has not however used the preparation period as well as he could have done to convince Löw that he could be the long term solution at full-back, and it now looks the more likely scenario that Boateng or Höwedes will be deployed on the right-side with Lahm on the left.
Influential midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is still not quite at his best level and has been struggling with a slight calf injury prior to the tournament, he can still be expected to contribute, although he remains a doubt for the first group game against Portugal.
Mertesacker was injured for a long period of the season, but recent comments have indicated that he is already at 90-95% full fitness, he joined the DFB team’s training on the 20th May having trained individually before.
Miroslav Klose has been struggling with injury and has only managed 25 minutes playing time for Lazio in the last few months of the Serie A season. Löw has been worried about him, but states that with every training session his concerns have decreased. The two weeks leading up to the tournament with individual training will be important in terms of getting him to a good level of fitness and he will push Mario Gómez for a start up front.
Jerome Boateng has had knee problems recently, but managed to put in a 120 minute shift in the UCL final for Bayern suggesting that he should be fit enough unless he suffers a relapse of his injury.
After their long season in the Bundesliga, the domestic cup and Champions League final, the Bayern players in particular can be expected to have some level of fatigue. Also the fact that they finished second in every competition could have some mental impact.
Having convinced in the last World Cup, the German team is seen by most as one of the top contenders. The team is even more experienced two years on and the general expectations are high. Reaching the final seems very realistic with the huge potential the starting team holds and further quality from the likes of Götze, Reus and more.
-Fatih Celikdis (Germany 1.Bundesliga Analyst), follow me @FRfussballFatih