You’ve got to ask yourself one question, Joachim: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?
Germany have had a mixed bag of a group stage so far during Euro 2020 but a late equalizer in their final group game against Hungary ensured progression through to the knockout stages of the competition. With Joachim Löw stepping down as coach of the national team after the tournament, will he mark the end of his reign with Die Mannschaft lifting the trophy on July 11th?
The Good of Germany
Germany have entered the tournament with arguably one of their weakest squads in recent memory. Löw has toyed with different starting lineups and different formation since World Cup 2018 and has yet to settle on one set-in-stone collection of personnel or a way in which to play them. After recalling experience in the form of Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, Löw has placed trust in new and exciting players with the likes of Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala all making their tournament debuts.
The 4-2 victory over fellow European titans Portugal has certainly been the high point so far. They managed more possession, more shots and looked to be employing a decent counter-attacking system when they held the lead. The masterful Toni Kroos did a fantastic job of guarding the middle of the park with his compatriot Ilkay Gundogan, never allowing Portugal’s key playmakers (most notably Bruno Fernandes) time or space.
Their Group F opener against France ended in a 1-0 defeat by way of a Hummels own-goal in the 20th minute. Germany bossed possession, recording 62%, but for all their dominance on the ball, never really looked as threatening as their French opponents. The front three of Gnabry, Havertz and Muller looked blunt and stuck for ways to find space against the impressive French back line – something that would’ve left Löw with more questions than answers.
Down 2-1 in their final group stage game against a dogged Hungary side who seemed to be determined to prove the doubters wrong that they would be the whipping boys in Group F, Germany did what they have done countless times over the years – they found a way to get over the line. As the seconds ticked away and with Die Mannschaft facing elimination from the competition, Leon Goretzka fired home an equalising goal that saw Germany rise like a phoenix from the bottom of the group and an early exit to second place and a mouth-watering tie against long time rivals, England.
In summary, Germany’s time at Euro 2020 has had a little bit of everything. The highs of putting four goals past some people’s tournament-favourites Portugal, the lows of staring at a group stage exit at the hands of comparative minnows Hungary and everything in between. As we move into the knockout round and bid farewell to the group stages, it would be foolish to write this German team off. The six-time finalists are well versed in managing games when it’s win or go home and will have the edge over England, in terms of mentality. Whoever comes out on top will have a quarter-final meeting against either Sweden or Ukraine and beyond that, a semi-finals matchup against any one of Netherlands, Czech Republic, Wales or Denmark – would you bet against the Germans reaching the final? I certainly wouldn’t!
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