Outright odds: 13/2
To win group: 4/7
To qualify: 1/7
Full squad: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover); Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (FC Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Julian Draxler (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio).
Manager: Joachim Low
World Cup record: Three-time winners (1954, 1974, 1990), four-times runners-up (most recently in 2002).
Is this the time for Germany? Talk of England’s golden generation has raged on and on but this Germany side has been so close yet so far, without ever quite getting there. Built upon a radical plan from the German FA to change their footballing system after a dreadful showing a Euro 2004, they have since finished third at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, runner up at the 2008 European Championships, and fourth at the Euro 2012 Championships.
It’s an international record that many nations would be proud of but the demand is for Low’s men to go all the way and there’s no telling that they’re capable.
The talent that has taken Germany so far in previous tournaments is, barring a couple of notable exceptions, all present as they bid to get over the line for the first time. Thomas Muller took the World Cup by storm four years ago and the golden boot thanks to the fact that he had three assists, and his presence for Bayern Munich and Die Nationalmannschaft has only increased in importance since. Bastian Schewinsteiger, a central part of the midfileld, is expected to be fit after an injury scare, and he was a key part in Bayern Munich’s retention of the league and German Cup. Mezut Ozil’s first season for Arsenal was not what it could have been, but the top scorer in qualifying would talk into most frontlines and brings the same level of movement and skill.
Mario Gotze scored 10 goals for Bayern Munich in a promising first season following his move from Dortmund and in Schalke’s Julian Draxler, Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle, and Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos they have attacking talent to burn.
The problems are either side of their strength in the middle of the park. Mats Hummels has long been a class act for Dortmund but his partner Per Metrsacker was mercilessly exposed against the best in the Premier League this season and his lack of pace is a huge worry. Sami Khedira can protect them but he’s only just come back into the fold following a serious ligament injury for Real Madrid.
Erik Durm is a hugely exciting talent and deserving of a likely starting spot but there is so much relying upon Phillip Lahm’s staying fit in the right sided position – at least Germany can boast the fantastic Manuel Neuer in goal and Weidenfeller as backup should the worst happen, but Germany conceded 8 goals to their most serious rivals in qualifying (in the shape of Sweden). Upfront, only Mirsolav Klose goes a registered striker and he scored just 7 goals for Lazio in the last campaign after injury has hampered his season and his lack of form is a big worry, although few sides are better equipped to play with no striker.