EURO 2012 GROUP of Death:Dortmund’s jewel,Rome’s goal poacher and Madrid’s diamond.

We continue our countdown to the 14th edition of the European Championship to be co-hosted by Poland (pop. 38.5 Million) and the Ukraine (pop. 45.6 Million) between June 8 and July 1, 2012 . Euro 2012 is the 3rd competition to be co-hosted.German has been drawn in  the same group with the Netherlands,Portugal and Denmark.Germany kick off their EURO 2012 campaign against the Portuguese on June 9.

@derkyiFCB and @NOKA88 will be following Germany over the course of Euro 2012 tournament, from the pre-tournament preparation to the match day’s themselves, covering everything you need to know about Die Mannschaft Here’s a quick profile of the team:



Many believe this is the best Germany team ever and following some impressive performances at the last few major tournaments, Joachim Low’s side appear to have what it takes to battle Spain for the coveted trophy. Ranked second in the world by FIFA,Germany is the most successful side in the European Championships.In 6 out of 10 appearances,the Germans have reached the final, thus registering an unprecedented record of European Championships. 1972, 1980 and 1996 have become golden years for them.Germany have  lost three European Championship finals (1976, 1992, 2008). The Germans have one of the strongest teams in their history with talents such as Reus,Gotze,Hummels and Ozil emerging from nowhere.

Following Low’s football philosophy, the German team has become better and better with the time. 10 wins in 10 qualification matches speak loud enough.This is the third time that Die Mannschaft shows up at Euro as vice-champions. Being in this role they eventually lifted the trophy the previous two times. Not repeating this triumph will be a disaster for the whole country.

Jogi Low’s best tournament has definitely been the World Cup in South Africa. The young coach seemed to have found the so much missed young players like Khedira, Ozil and Muller and get his message delivered to them. They failed to perform in the semi-final, where Thomas Muller was missing.  Muller did not have a great season and if he does not find his best shape until the decisive matches are underway, Germany needs to play untested Reus, Gotze or anybody else, who will not be exactly the same type of player as Muller.

However, there is no doubt that Germany has the strongest squad at this Euro. Despite some pessimistic expectations, the team showed the most attractive football at the previous World Cup and probably the lack of experience made them leave the tournament without gold medals. But now this experience-box can also be ticked. Besides, the team continues to develop and recruit more talented youngsters.

Statistics against

Denmark

Denmark’s record in 25 previous meetings with Germany is 8 wins 3 draws and 14 defeats. However, they hold the upper hand in competitive fixtures, where they have won two of three encounters.The Danes have not lost in their last three meetings with Germany – all friendlies – recording wins in Copenhagen and Duisburg, and a draw in the Danish capital.

The match between those two teams in the Swedish capital back in 1992 has been the most important one in Denmark’s football history. The fairy tale ended as it was meant to. Denmark won 2-0 against probably the best team in the world. Absolutely amazing tournament with even more amazing final!

Portugal:

Germany has met Portugal on 16 occasions,beating Ronaldo’s men 8 times.Rui Costa got one of the most controversial red cards in the football history, when, winning against the Germans by one goal, he was too slow to leave the pitch while being substituted. Germany managed to equalize, which was enough to win the group and leave Portugal without the World Cup. This was the qualification campaign for World Cup 1998 – the last time the Portuguese did not qualify for a major tournament. Two years later at the 2000 European Championships,Portugal had a sweet revenge over the Germans.Sérgio Conceição scored a  hattrick in Portugal’s 3-0 win and sent the Germans packing as they finished bottom of their group.

Netherlands: 

The rivalry between Netherlands and the German national football team is so intense. In the 1988 European Championship the Dutch not only equalized but also scored the matchwinner on the 88th minute of the semi-final in Hamburg, entering the final. They went on to win the tournament, but the trophy was hardly worthier than eliminating the Germans in their own turf. This historical match is considered to lessen the war-related anti-German sentiment in the Dutch society.Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s goal also sealed a 1-1 draw when the two teams met at EURO 2004.

 

COMMUNICATION GAP|Torres’ EURO

Lack of communication between Lahm and German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann let Fernando Torres in behind as he cleverly lifted Xavi’s pass over Lehmann. Spain claimed their first major title for 44 years.

Germany’s entry into the Euro 2008 qualifying round was marked partially by the promotion of Joachim Löw to head coach, since Klinsmann retired in spite of a public outcry for him to continue managing Die Mannschaft.

Löw  quickly became notable for continually introducing talented young players into his team, leading to a continuous rejuvenation of the squad. In a group with the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland, Germany qualified comfortably, defeating San Marino in a record 13–0 away win along the way.

For the final tournament, Germany were placed into Group B alongside Poland, Croatia and longtime rivals Austria.Germany defeated Poland 2–0but lost 2-1 to Croatia.Germany entered the knockout round with a victory over Austria in the last match of group play.

Michael Ballack scored the only goal of the game. Germany met Portugal in the  quarterfinals. The German beat the Portuguese 3–2.Germany went into their semifinal match against Turkey as the overwhelming favourites. However, the team put up a nervous and shaky performance as defender Philipp Lahm scored the winner sending Germany into the final against Spain.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Die Mannschaft were the first to book their place in Poland and Ukraine, won every match, and earned more points than any other team.

GROUP A GP GD PTS
1 Germany (Q) 10 10 0 0 27 30
2 Turkey 10 5 2 3 2 17
3 Belgium 10 4 3 3 6 15
4 Austria 10 3 3 4 -1 12
5 Azerbaijan 10 2 1 7 -16 7
6 Kazakhstan 10 1 1 8 -18 4

TOP SCORERS

9 – Miroslav Klose
6 – Mario Gomez
5 – Mesut Ozil
3 – Lukas Podolski,Thomas Muller, Andre Schurrle
1 – Holger Badstuber, Mario Gotze, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Heiko Westermann

PAST RECORDS IN THE EUROS

Germany’s disaster at EURO 2000 and EURO 2004 prompted a youth initiative in the Bundesliga that has resulted in their increased talent pool as of late, and after finishing runners-up at Euro 2008, they are hungry for a first tournament win in 16 years.Germany is probably having one of the most fruitful periods in history. Bundesliga is flourishing, and the renaissance of Borussia Dortmund has only made Die Mannschaft stronger. The age of the most German internationals is unusually low. Only four players are older than 27 and 15 players are 23 or even younger.

1960
Did not enter
1988
Semi-finalists
1964
Did not enter
1992
Runners-up
1968
Did not qualify
1996
Winners
1972
Winners
2000
Group stage
1976
Runners-up
2004
Group stage
1980
Winners
2008
Runners-up
1984
Group stage
2012
Qualified as group winners

THE TACTICIAN | Joachim Low

It is wrong to believe we can beat them [Spain] with one-on-ones and by being tough.”-Joachim Low

Joachim Löw (52), who has had coaching spells in Germany, Turkey and Austria, was virtually unknown when he joined the national team as assistant to Klinsmann in 2004.Low is a master tactician and a lover of detailed planning and preparation.

Since taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, the former assistant national team coach has enjoyed an immensely successful run, but as of yet no trophies.Low led Germany to the Euro 2008 final,when the team contained a backbone of players from Klinsmann’s time, including captain Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings lost to Spain.

His side also finished third at the World Cup two years later.It was Spain, again, who ended German title hopes with a 1-0 semi-final defeat.  Low fielded the youngest German World Cup team in 76 years to establish them as one of the most exciting prospects.Germany seems to have found a great successor of German coaching traditions.

Germany qualified for Euro 2012 top their group with ten wins out of ten matches. During the qualification campaign Löw signed a new contract that will keep him with Germany until 2014.With Portugal, Denmark and Netherlands awaiting in the group stage, however, Low knows he has to carefully tune his team to be in top form from the start.

Having won 53 of his 77 matches as head coach, Low boasts the best win percentage (68.83%) of any German national team coach in history.

Low surprised everyone by naming uncapped teenage midfielder Julian Draxler and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in his provisional squad for Euro 2012 and dropping Marin.Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke  has even urged the national team trainer to select players from the double winners in his final Euro 2012 squad, which will be named at the end of the month.

Here’s the provisional German squad:

Germany squad

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96)

Defenders: Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Philipp Lahm (all Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)

Midfielders: Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira (both Real Madrid/ESP), Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger (all Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Mario Goetze, Ilkay Gundogan, Sven Bender (all Borussia Dortmund), Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Andre Schuerrle (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Lukas Podolski (Cologne)

Forwards: Cacau (VfB Stuttgart), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio)

 THE CAPTAIN | Phillip Lahm

“If Philipp Lahm will not make it in the Bundesliga, nobody will anymore.”-Herman Hummels (Lahm’s ex-youth coach)

Lahm was originally signed by Stuttgart on loan from Bayern Munich as a back-up for Andreas Hinkel, who played as right-back, but coach Felix Magath moved him to the left back position.He made over 30 appearances for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and seven Champions League matches that season.He is considered one of the best full backs in the world, and was included in the World Cup team of the tournament in 2006 and 2010, the UEFA Team of the Tournament in 2008 and in the FIFA Team of the Year 2008. He is well known for his pace, dribbling and precise tackling abilities as well as his small stature. Although Lahm is right-footed, he is able to play on both sides of the pitch.


Munich-born Philipp Lahm (28) joined the Bayern Munich Junior Team when he was 11 after a youth coach, Jan Pienta, had scouted him several times while he was playing for the local youth team.The Bayern defender has captained his team at every level.Lahm won the Bundesliga youth title two times, the second time as captain of his team,and then joined the amateur side at the age of 17. His former amateur coach Hermann Gerland considers Lahm to be the most talented player he has ever coached. Lahm also captained the amateur team.

Lahm started his international career in the Under19 national team. He was part of the team that won silver for Germany in the 2002 Under 19 European championship. He made his senior national team debut after just half a season of Bundesliga football with Stuttgart, where he spent the 2003/04 campaign on loan from Bayern.

One of Germany’s few successes at UEFA EURO 2004, Lahm started all three matches in Portugal.Although Germany did not make it past the group stage, Lahm’s performance was considered very promising and was also elected to the All Star Team of the tournament.

He helped Bayern to the 2010 UEFA Champions League final, which they lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in Madrid, but did celebrate another domestic double.He also played a major role in Germany’s success at the 2010 World Cup, where they were eventually knocked out by eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals; included in the tournament’s All-Star Team.

The Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft captain has been capped 85 times.Lahm announced himself to the world when he scored the spectacular first goal of the 2006 FIFA World Cup against Costa Rica on his home ground and was the only Germany player to appear for the maximum 690 minutes.He has scored four goals for his team.

Following the withdrawal of regular captain Michael Ballack from the World Cup squad due to injury, Lahm was chosen to captain the team .On 13 June 2010, he became the youngest player to captain a German side in a World Cup aged 26. Lahm’s captaincy would later became permanent, when coach Joachim Löw announced Ballack would not be considered to play for Germany anymore.

Since Willy Sagnol was playing as right back, Bixente Lizarazu was the main left back for Bayern Munich, and their midfield was also well-staffed, Lahm was loaned to VfB Stuttgart for the 2003–04 and 2004–05 Bundesliga seasons.

Lahm returned to Bayern Munich in 2005.However, he got injured just before his return. He returned to the field in November making his first professional Bundesliga appearance for Bayern.During the season he appeared for Bayern 20 times in Bundesliga and thrice in Champions League.

During the season 2006–07 Lahm played in all of Bayern’s 34 Bundesliga games and in nine of the ten Champions League games. solid performances during a season that was one of the worst for Bayern in many years.

Lahm missed more than a year of international football between January 2005 and March 2006 due to injuries , including the Confederations Cup 2005.

For the season 2007–08 Bayern bought the German international left back Marcell Jansen and Lahm was supposed to be reverted to right, both to accommodate Jansen and to replace French right back Willy Sagnol. Due to injuries (both his and Jansen’s) he still mainly ended up playing left for Bayern and has remained left for the end of the season, although he uttered his wish to play on right several times during the year 2008. He won a second domestic double with Bayern in 2007/08 albeit, like the first one in 2005/06, it was cut short by injury.

During the 2009–10 season under the new coach Louis van Gaal, Lahm was used predominantly at right-back. He played one of his best seasons ever, forming an excellent partnership on the right wing with the Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben, scoring one goal and giving 12 assists in all of his games.Lahm was also chosen as vice-captain by Van Gaal.After the departure of captain Mark van Bommel in January 2011, Lahm was made the new captain for the remainder of the season.

During the Euro 2008 he was in Germany’s starting line-up in all games and was only substituted in the final after getting a cut needing stitches on his foot. Lahm started the tournament as a right back but replaced the under-performing Jansen as left back mid way through the second game. On 25 June 2008, he scored the winning goal of the Euro 2008 semi-final against Turkey in the 90th minute.

Captain Lahm’s solid defending helped Germany win all ten qualification matches for Euro 2012, and he also provided one assist each for Mesut Özil and Mario Gomez.

Lahm lost another UEFA Champions League final this season as Chelsea beat the Bavarians in the Allianz Arena on penalties.Earlier that week,Dortmund had beaten Bayern 5-2 in the DFB Pokal final.Bayern also finished second to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and he will be looking to make amends for all the lost trophies by winning EURO 2012.


GOAL MACHINE| Miroslav Klose

“The record is my big target. Maybe it will come at the European Championship” – Miroslav Klose.

Germany’s second all-time top scorer (63 goals) and second most capped player came to international prominence at the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan.He scored five headed goals for Germany, finishing joint second highest goal scorer along with Rivaldo. He became the first player ever to score five headers in a World Cup, and he celebrated all of his goals with his trademark front-flip, earning him the nickname “Salto-Klose”. His goal tally included a hat-trick in Germany’s 8–0 hammering of Saudi Arabia, as well as one goal each against Ireland and Cameroon in the group stages.Die Mannschaft has never lost a game in which Klose has scored.

During the Euro 2012 qualifiers, Klose has scored at least one goal in every single game he played, scoring against all of Germanys opponents: Belgium, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Austria.He scored nine goals and provided two assists making him Europe’s second most successful striker behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who scored 12 times in eight matches.

Miroslav Josef Klose (33) is the only surviving member of Germany’s 2002 FIFA World Cup team.Born in Opole, Poland, Klose made his first major impact at Bundesliga level with Kaiserslautern before joining then German champions Bremen in 2004 for a fee of €5 million.

Klose had also successfully completed an apprenticeship to become a carpenter and had worked in this profession until joining the professional team of FC Kaiserslautern.After a season at FC Homburg, he joined the reserve team of FC Kaiserslautern.

A year after joining the club, he made it into the first team. In his first 67 matches, Klose scored 33 goals. Klose’s consistency as a goal-scorer in his first Bundesliga season at Kaiserslautern earned him attention.In 2001,Klose made his national team debut against Albania and scored on his debut.He went on to score 8 goals in four games for Germany  to establish him in Germany’s starting lineup for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.He was Germany’s top scorer at the 2002 FIFA World Cup with five goals − all headers in the group stages.The 2002/03 season was a very disappointing one as Klose scored only 7 goals.

Klose had a poor EURO 2004 and came on as a substitute in two games but was not fit, since he just recovered from a knee injury.His deputy,Kevin Kuranyi,could not save Germany from an early exit.

Klose formed an impressive attacking triangle with French midfielder Johan Micoud and Croatian forward Ivan Klasnić scoring 15 goals in the Bundesliga. In the 2005–06 season, he scored 25 goals, the highest that season..

He went into the 2006 World Cup in Germany as the Bundesliga’s leading marksman and scored another five goals to become the tournament’s Golden Boot winner.Klose is the first German since Gerd Müller in the 1970s to become the top scorer at a World Cup.

He left Bremen for Bayern in 2007 and enjoyed a successful debut season, winning the domestic double − the first major honours of his career.Klose scored twice at EURO 2008 as Germany reached the final. Klose’s second season at the club was a positive one. He finished as Bayern’s top scorer in all competitions with 20 goals.Seven of his goals came in the UEFA Champions’ League, making him the second-best goalscorer in that year’s competition; only Lionel Messi with nine scored more than Klose.

Largely used from the bench, he registered six goals in all competitions as Bayern won the Bundesliga/German Cup double again in 2009/10.Klose was selected in Germany’s final 23-man squad, and for his third successive World Cup campaign.Klose scored 4 goals in South Africa.He needs just one goal to equal Ronaldo’s 15 goals but I don’t think he will make the next World Cup squad.
Klose sustained two injuries in the beginning of the 2010–11 season. After he had made a full recovery, he lost his place in the team  to in form Mario Gomez and Olic.On 6 June 2011, he opted to experience club football outside of Germany with a move in June 2011 to Lazio, for whom he scored on his European and Serie A debuts.

He was prolific in the first half of the season and mid-way through the second until a thigh injury ruled him out for about seven weeks. He has scored 16 goals in all competition for the Biancocelesti.

Just as prolific in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying with nine goals in six appearances as Germany became the first country to qualify for the finals.Klose needs just 5 goals to break Gerd Muller’s record and the EUROs will be the best place for him to achieve that feat.This might be his last tournament.It’s now or never for Klose.

STAR PLAYER |  Mesut Özil

“My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part.“-Mesut Özil

A La Liga winner with Mourinho’s Madrid this season,Germany’s ‘Messi’ brings finesse to the midfield and his magical left-foot can split any defence. Özil possesses great footwork and is known for setting up his teammates for strikes on goal. He has superb ball control and has great awareness of the game on the pitch.”Nemo” also boasts a powerful shot from distance.In 2011, he ranked second in assists in La Liga with 17.This season he provided the most assists in La Liga.He scored 4 league goals this season.

Özil (22) was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, to second-generation Turkish immigrants.He played youth football for Rot-Weiss Essen before returning home to launch his professional career with Schalke.
He made his senior international debut on 11 February 2009 in a friendly against Norway.Since finding his way into Low’s squad in 2009, Ozil has been an integral part of the Germany team.The Real Madrid playmaker scored 5 goals in 9 games for the Germans.Ozil has scored 8 goals in 31 games for Germany

He made his Bundesliga debut against Eintracht Frankfurt in August 2006 but managed only 30 appearances for Schalke before joining Bremen in January 2008.He started off at Bremen as the understudy playmaker to Diego but stood in for the Brazilian in the 2009 UEFA Cup final defeat by FC Shakhtar Donetsk and scored the only goal in the German Cup showpiece against Bayer 04 Leverkusen ten days later.

Ozil starred in Germany’s victory at the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Sweden, scoring one goal and setting up two more in the final as England were beaten 4-0.

He rose to the occasion at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he started all seven matches, scoring one goal against Ghana and providing three assists to help Germany finish third.He joined national team colleague Sami Khedira at Madrid in August 2010 when he made a €15m switch from Bremen.
Özil was one of the leading forces in Germany’s qualification for UEFA Euro 2012He was the highest provider of assists in EURO 2012 qualifying, as he provided seven assists.This fact makes him one of the hottest youngsters, if not the best, to watch during the EUROs. His speed, skills and creativity are surely going to create something fascinating to watch this summer.

JEWEL  | Mario Götze

Götze spoke about his contract extension saying, “Everyone knows how comfortable I feel in Dortmund. The club are far from finished with their recent resurgence. And I want to be part of this development.

It would be harsh on my part not to  pay tribute to Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Götze (19). Although he missed a lot of games due to an injury last season,his role in Dortmund’s recent success has been crucial.The son of a renowned professor at the Dortmund University of Technology,the attacking midfielder is considered to be an up-and-coming, potential world class player due to his speed, technical skill, play-making abilities and creativity.On the day of his international debut in 2010 he was only 18 years and 5 months old – the youngest player to play for Germany in the last 50 years.Götze and André Schürrle who came on simultaneously are the first two Germany players to be born in reunified Germany. He is the second youngest Nationalmannschaft player of all time after Uwe Seeler.He has already collected 12 international caps and scored twice (scored1 goal in the EURO 2012 qualifiers). He will surely make this number grow significantly in the nearest future.

Born in the south German town of Memmingen, Götze moved to Dortmund at the age of six, joining the Schwarzgelben three years later.Fabian Götze (21),Mario’s brother, will forever regret leaving Dortmund’s youth system in 2010 for FSV Mainz 05  II.He is currently at VfL Bochum II.

Mario on the other hand stayed and progressed up the youth ladder at Dortmund and also gained honours at successive age levels with Germany, from Under-15 to U21, inspiring his country to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship title on home soil in 2009 and starring, with three goals, at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria later that year.

He made a major breakthrough in the 2010/11 season, scoring his first Bundesliga goal in a 3-1 win at VfB Stuttgart and crowning his first European start with a double as Dortmund defeated FC Karpaty Lviv 4-3 in Ukraine, his second goal being a 90th-minute winner.

Götze was on target six times in Dortmund’s 2010/11 title-winning campaign and thus won the 2011 winner of European Golden Boy award.

He began the season by scoring his first goals at international level in successive matches against Brazil and Austria.Götze’s was 19 years and 68 days when he scored his first international goal.He became the joint-youngest goalscorer for the German national team in the post-war era along with Klaus Stürmer.He scored 6 goals in 16 appearances due to his hip injury.Götze signed a new contract with Borussia Dortmund this year, keeping him at the club until 2016.

His attacking midfield partnership in Germany internationals with Ozil has earned the ‘magic duo’ the nickname Götzil,with  their similar playing positions, technique, abilities, and style of play.

This German team is as cruel as always. Joachim Low’s players are so hungry that they are not going to relax until the final whistle is blown. And of course, Germans always have the moral advantage when the winner is to be decided on penalties. Their goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has already brought such wins to his Bayern in couple of semi-finals this season.If Mario Gomez is as effective for his national team as he has been for Bayern, or if Miroslav Klose is determined to score as frequent as he used to at his previous major tournaments, I don’t see any reason for them not to become European Champions for the fourth time in history.

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)
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