With Euro 2012 kicking-off in 3 weeks it's time to profile the countries taking part, from their footballing beginnings to the present day
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Qualifying Group Winners
Coach: Joachim Loew
One to Watch: Thomas Mueller
As we approach the summer of 2012 all of our minds, well most of them at least, will turn away from the domestic football competitions within our own countries, towards the International arena for the eagerly awaited European Championship Finals, to be held in Poland and the Ukraine. Within a fortnight from now, the world will know the names of the last four teams/countries, which will join the 12 nations already guaranteed a place at Euro 2012. Over the next three weeks, I shall be profiling each of the 16 finalists who will bid to become the champions of Europe until 2016.
The continuation of our Euro 2012 team profiles now brings us to Germany. Like the German nation, the German national football team found itself split into West Germany and East Germany following the end of Second World War. The two teams competed separately in international competition and achieved varying degrees of success.
West Germany proceeded to win the World Cup Finals in 1954, in 1974 on home soil, and again in 1990, when the tournament was held in Italy. They also fared well in the European Championships, winning the competition at the first time of asking in 1972, before going on to be crowned Champions again in 1980.
East Germany however, couldn’t match that success in the major footballing competitions, failing to qualify for the European Championships and making just one appearance in the World Cup (1974). The East German football team did, however, win Gold in the Olympic football competition of 1976, and defeated the World Cup winning West German team in 1974- the only match ever played between the two countries.
Re-unification came in 1990, and, since then, Germany have continued to be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. Although not quite reaching the heights that West Germany reached in the past; Germany reached the final of Euro 92 losing 2-0 to Denmark, a feat repeated at Euro 96, this time they came out on top, defeating the Czech Republic 2-1 after Oliver Bierhoff scored the decisive “Golden Goal”.
In 2008 Germany made the final again, only to be defeated by Spain, Fernando Torres scoring the only goal. The Germans have made their mark in the World Cup Finals too, reaching the final in 2002 when they lost to Brazil, reaching the semi-finals of World Cup 2006, in Germany, and in 2010 in South Africa. Beaten by the eventual winners on both occasions, Germany played strongly, and were unfortunate not to have progressed further.
The World Cup Finals in South Africa last year saw Germany, under head coach Joachim Loew , firmly display their credentials as one of the most exciting teams in international football. Loew who took over from Juergen Klinsmann before Euro 2008, built on his success in that tournament by taking a young team, without injured captain and talisman Michael Ballack, to South Africa.
The relatively inexperienced side grew into the tournament producing a run of fine performances and results; defeating England 4-1 in the second round, before going on to destroy Diego Maradona’s heavily fancied Argentina, which included the likes of Di Maria and Messi, 4-0 in the quarter finals. Germany went on to lose to Spain 1-0 in the semis but had chances against the Spaniards, which had they taken, could have led them to the final against Holland.
Germany’s race to qualification for next summer’s European Championships was impressive to say the least, winning all of their matches, scoring 34 goals in the process and conceding just seven. Not only do the Germans have a settled squad with a great blend of youth and experience, they also have top players in key positions such as Mesut Oezil, Manuel Neuer and Bastien Schweinsteiger.
In Mario Gomez they have a striker who is in the form of his career, with thirteen goals in eleven games for Bayern Munich already this season and six in Euro 2012 qualifying. With, the evergreen, Miroslav Klose banging them in in Italy, not to mention the Arsenal bound Lukas Podolski fresh from a prolific season in the Bundesliga, goals shouldn't be hard to come by for die Nationalmannschaft.
One player to really look out for this summer is Thomas Mueller. Still only 22 years old, Mueller was a sensation at last year’s World Cup scoring five goals in six appearances, combined with three assists, enough to win him The Golden Boot and see him named the tournament’s Best Young Player.
On the evidence of South Africa 2010 and qualifying form since, Germany can make a serious bid to become European Champions again this summer. Along with Holland, Germany pose the most serious threat to Spain’s continued domination of international competition, and with the competition taking place just next door in Poland and Ukraine, the German fans will turn out in force to watch their team try to reach the pinnacle of European football again.
Parade image by Thomas pix. Team image by Andrey Terekhov.