Germany aims for Euro crown

Thomas Mueller (AFP)
Thomas Mueller (AFP)

Frankfurt - No false modesty for Germany. The World Cup winners have made clear that the Euro 2016 title is their next target.

But the road to France has proved to be rockier than expected for Joachim Loew's team. Germany failed to beat Ireland in two matches, losing away and drawing at home. It lost to Poland for the first time ever.

In the end, Germany produced enough to win the group. But since lifting the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, Germany has had a checkered record. It lost friendlies against Argentina, the United States and France, as well as the two qualifiers.

Its next trip to France will be a reminder of the traumatic experience when it lost the friendly while suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France during the Paris attacks in November.

Loew has repeatedly said that the title in France is the team's next goal after the World Cup. A three-time champion, Germany has not won the European title since 1996 in England.

Loew's team lost the Euro 2008 final to Spain and was eliminated by Italy in the semifinals four years later. That defeat was severely criticized in Germany but all was forgotten and forgiven after the fabulous run in Brazil.

Germany is seeded at the draw and again will be the team to beat.

Here is a look at Germany's top three players and its coach, Loew: 


The Bayern Munich forward is the dream and nightmare of each coach. Mueller needs freedom to roam and cannot fit into set patterns. But he has the instinct for being at the right place at the right time. A typical poacher, Mueller will score from half chances and loose balls. Loew has been playing without a true striker since the retirement of Miroslav Klose and Mueller has proved indispensable to the team, scoring nine goals in qualifying. He's also one of the jesters in the team, valued for creating a good atmosphere. 


The goalkeeper considered by many to be the best in the world. On the line, off the line, Neuer produces spectacular saves. If necessary, far off the line. Neuer will not hesitate to race toward the center circle to clear a long ball and prevent a counterattack. His style is risky and he is not immune from mistakes. But the Bayern Munich 'keeper has grown into one of Germany's key players. Neuer will turn 30 during the tournament, young enough for a goalkeeper but with plenty of experience of big matches. 


The attacking midfielder is having a breakthrough season at Schalke. Sane turns 20 in January and made his Germany debut against France. Fast, agile, Sane seeks one-on-one situations, can dribble and score and create for his teammates. He produced a memorable performance off the bench against Real Madrid in March, scoring a goal on his Champions League debut. Leroy is the son of former Senegal star Souleyman Sane, who had a distinguished career in Germany, and Olympic rhythmic gymnastics medalist Regina Weber. Sane needs to work on his right-foot shot but with Loew known for giving a chance to young players, he could become a starter in France.


Loew brought Germany its fourth World Cup title and the 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the semifinals enhanced his reputation even before the final. Loew joined the national team as Juergen Klinsmann's assistant in 2004 and became head coach in 2006. Loew is known for meticulous planning and is considered a gifted tactician. He often plays without a true striker and has brought many young players into the team. His contract has been extended through the 2018 World Cup.

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