Analyzing Germany’s Potential Euro 2016 Roster

First, it’s worth mentioning that Joachim Löw’s list of 31 players for his Euro 2016 roster does not have any official meaning whatsoever. On this list are simply players who will take part in the official media day where footage is shot that will be used for commercials during the year.

And it was also interesting that Leroy Sane was not on the list, but took part in all the photo shoots. So don’t take Jogi’s list too seriously; besides, the Rückrunde is just weeks old and there is still a lot of football left. Injuries, slumps, and breakout performances can still shake up the depth chart. But you can expect around 20 of these names on the 23 man roster for Frankreich.

(Note: Bolded names mean the player is a lock to go to France in my estimation.)

Goalkeepers

  • Bernd Leno (Leverkusen)
  • Marc-Andre ter Stegen (FC Barcelona)
  • Kevin Trapp (Paris St. Germain)
  • Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96)
  • Manuel Neuer (Bayern)

Not any surprises here at all. And also no conversation about the starting job.
Neuer is the best goalie in the game and once he finishes his career, he might even be remembered as the one of the best German athletes ever, along with Nowitzki, Steffi Graf and Michael Schumacher.

So for Löw picking two backups is all there is to worry about.

Zieler had been on the 2014 team and has proven that he will fall in line without bothering anybody. Trapp and Leno are starters on Champions League teams.

Ter Stegen even plays for the best club of them all, but only has a part-time gig. A fact that makes the sample size of his performances very small and hard to analyse.

If the rumors about an ongoing feud between Leno and ter Stegen are true, bringing both of them to France might cause unwanted drama. At last years U21 Euro, when they went head to head for the starting spot, there were some verbal shots fired. Ter Stegen won the #1 spot but he looked bad in the semifinal that Germany lost 0:5 to Portugal. Distractions like “beefing with a teammate” normally doesn’t sit well with the DFB bosses.

So I bet that Trapp and Zieler make the trip. They will both be happy just to be there and aren’t any worse at goalkeeping than those two other guys, anyways.

Panic Level: 0/10

Germany has at least five more Goalkeepers that could do the job in France than the ones on that list. Even if Manuel Neuer should get hurt, I don’t think anybody in Germany would panic. When Rene Adler got hurt before South Africa 2010 Neuer stepped in and that worked out rather well.

Notable Omission:

Timo Horn (Cologne) has the tragic fate of being German. On many other national teams he might start and he also may be one of the best 20 goalkeepers in the world, but in Germany that’s not even enough for the top five. He will be the next man up if injuries happen to any of the guys listed above, though.

Defense

  • Jérôme Boateng (Bayern, pending injury recovery)
  • Emre Can ( Liverpool)
  • Erik Durm (Dortmund)
  • Matthias Ginter (Dortmund)
  • Jonas Hector (Cologne)
  • Benedikt Höwedes (Schalke)
  • Mats Hummels (Dortmund)
  • Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia)
  • Antonio Rüdiger (AS Roma)
  • Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim)

This is the part of the team where Jogi will have to work some magic. Since Lahm has retired from the international scene,  Durm, Can, Hector, Rudy, Rüdiger and Ginter all had a shot to prove that they are the solution to Germany’s full back position problems. In Brazil 2014, Germany played some games with four center backs because the available full backs could not be trusted. In other games, including the final, Höwedes, currently injured, played as a full back.

If you look at the “challengers” in this player pool I think playing three in the back like Barca might be the best way to go. Emre Can is a midfielder, Ginter hasn’t played the position until last summer, Hector’s development has stalled and Rüdiger is never healthy. Sebastian Rudy’s inclusion is something only Jogi Löw truly understands, and Durm!? I don’t even know if he’d be on a BVB top 31 list at the moment to be honest, I mean the guy has been in less than 40 Bundesliga games overall.

If Jogi decides to switch to a back three-formation the bolded players will play in some kind of order. If it’s a 4-4-2 I think it would be a crapshoot to pick which one of these players is the smallest liability. They are all flawed and/or inexperienced at the position. So who cares, right?

Panic Level: 5/10

The center of defense is golden. Boateng and Hummels will be the best pairing in the tournament (if healthy). The problems are located on the flanks. Lahm was one of the greatest ever, he could take care of a whole flank without any help.  There will never be an adequate replacement for him. When Jogi had Lahm on one side of the field he could hide some of the flaws Höwedes had as a full back by overloading his side of the park because Lahm didn’t need any support. All the “smoke and mirror” stuff Jogi did in Brazil is impossible without Lahm.

So Jogi can pick his poison:

  1. Either keep the 4er Kette 4-5-1 system that has been in place since 2004 and rely on unproven talent out wide like Hector and Ginter
  2. Blow it up and implement a 3er Kette to play a 3-6-1.
  3. No matter what Jogi decides the defense will be one of the best in the competition as long as Boateng and Hummels are healthy. Boateng should be ready for France after his injury against Hamburg. But losing Lahm has made Germany vulnerable again so it will be hard to repeat those 1:0 wins they got against France and Argentina. Lahm has never won a Ballon D’or because he plays fullback, but losing him has the same effect as if Portugal lost Ronaldo or Messi would quit Argentina. Lahm was/is that good

Notable Omissions

Mitchell Weiser, Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha), Rafinha, Badstuber (Bayern).

Weiser is having a superb season with Hertha and should at least get the same amount of consideration as Durm or Rudy. Teammate Marvin Plattenhardt has also had a nice season at Hertha so far and did not get any love from the DFB. I don’t want to sound like a Hertha fanboy, but if they both played for BVB, Jogi would……. OK l’ll stop.

Brazilian born Rafinha was granted the German citizenship last year and would be eligible to play for die Mannschaft, since he never made the Selecao. I normally don’t like the idea of naturalized foreigners on national teams, but if you take a look at the bunch of full backs we have right now a back four of Rafinha-Boateng-Hummels-Höwedes sounds good to me.

Oh and Kevin Großkreutz, the German “Johnny Manziel”, did not make it to nobody’s surprise. He might become a viable option if he gets his s##t together in Stuttgart.

Holger Badstuber (made the trips in 2010 & 2012) is somebody who could help immediately, but staying healthy should be his only concern for now. If he does, don’t be surprised to see him start against Ukraine in Lille.

Midfield

  • Karim Bellarabi (Leverkusen)
  • Christoph Kramer (Leverkusen)
  • Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg)
  • Andre Schürrle (Wolfsburg)
  • Ilkay Gündogan (BVB)
  • Marco Reus (BVB)
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United)
  • Meszut Özil (Arsenal)
  • Thomas Müller (Bayern)
  • Toni Kroos (Real)
  • Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray)
  • Sami Khedira (Juve)

Nothing here to discuss. Only Jogi Löw knows why Reus is listed a midfielder, while Götze is listed as a striker, but Germany will be fine in the middle of the park no matter what. There is enough talent around. Only injuries will keep the bolded names from not being in France next summer, it would be speculation to pick the potential replacements. But the guys from Bayer 04 should have the inside track on the remaining spots. Schürrle hasn’t done much since he was let go by Chelsea and I am shocked that he’s on that list. Podolski is also on there on merit and name recognition only, which is totally fine since he is a valuable asset as a locker-room-glue guy who everybody loves. Draxler is for sure good enough to make it, but his optimal positions are blocked by better players.

Schweini’s performances in England haven’t been anything to write home about while Kroos, Gündogan and Khedira play at better clubs and have been solid. It will be interesting to see if Jogi has the back of his captain or reaches the same conclusion Bayern did on “BOSStian” last summer.

Panic Level: 1/10

Midfield should not be an issue, as only Belgium, France and Spain may field one next summer that’s as good. But an in-form Schweinsteiger wouldn’t hurt.

Notable Omissions:

Leroy Sane (Schalke), Julian Weigl (BVB).

Weigl has beaten out Sven Bender for the starting spot in BVB’s midfield and if he continues to play like he did in the Hinrunde he’ll go mano e mano with Kramer for the Kroos/Khedira backup role.

Sane will probably have to beat out Karim Bellarabi to make the cut. They are both speed & change of pace guys so I don’t see Jogi bringing both along. Should Sane be really worth what teams in England are offering and show it on a consistent basis, he will make the trip.

“Forwards”

  • Mario Gomez (Besiktas)
  • Mario Götze (Bayern)
  • Max Kruse (Wolfsburg)
  • Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim)

I did put “forwards” in there on purpose since only one of these dudes is a bonafide striker, oh and he plays in the Turkish Süperlig. This should be all the information you need about Germany’s struggles up front ever since Miroslav Klose left.

Volland is a career 0.25 goals-per-game striker and Max Kruse is also nobody a Varane, Chiellini or Pique will be scared of. You can make a point for/against any one of these players, in the end they will not take you far in the tournament. It would probably be better to convert Reus or Draxler to a striker than to start any one of them.

Müller and Götze did a good job when they were deployed up front, but it would be nice to have at least one Stoßstürmer like Mandzukic that could be targeted with crosses.

Panic Level: 6/10

As long as Müller is healthy, Germany will be fine. If he’s not, Germany will have to pass teams to death with a small line up or rely on guys who have never done it on that level.

Notable Omission:

Alex “Fußballgott” Meier (Frankfurt).

Of course Alex Meier isn’t a long term solution at center forward but if Germany is tied 0-0 after 80mins, he would be a nice player to bring off the bench. Besides Müller, Jogi only has finesse and speed to throw at opponents, no power and height.If Jogi wants to live and die by the “tiki taka” that’s ok, but before he gives Gomez another shot, Meier deserves one too.

For me last season’s Bundesliga scoring leader is up there with the best in terms of one-touch, bang-it-in shots and headers.  In the Euro qualifiers this type of skill set was missing since artists like Reus, Götze and Özil were all wasteful with chances and there was no sign of a Plan B in those Poland and Ireland losses. Jogi Löw was extremely stubborn when media and fans were endorsing Stefan Kießling in 2010 because of his Bundesliga scoring title. Jogi never caved in. But back then he still had peak Klose and Podolski at his disposal, now he might not have any other choice but to take Meier.

Potential U21 “Dark horses”

  • Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen)
  • Julian Brandt (Leverkusen)
  • Niklas Süle (Hoffenheim)
  • Joshua Kimmich (Bayern)
  • Maxi Arnold (Wolfsburg)
  • Max Meyer (Schalke)
  • Leon Goretzka (Schalke)
  • Davie Selke (RB Leipzig)
  • Timo Werner (Stuttgart)

Of this list, Tah and Süle should go all out for the rest of the season. If Boateng’s recovery process isn’t going too well they might be needed in France sooner than they think.

Davie Selke would be the perfect fit for the DFB team, a big athletic striker that is also fast and can help the build up play. But 7 goals, 2 assists in half a  2. Bundesliga season isn’t anything that says “take me to France, Jogi!”. But remember that name, he is the best striker prospect in Germany.

My Prediction

Starters:

Neuer / Boateng-Hummels-Höwedes / Khedira-Kroos-Gündogan / Reus-Özil-Götze / Müller

Backups:

Trapp + Zieler / Hector-Mustafi-Rüdiger-Ginter / Can-Schweinsteiger-Weigl / Bellarabi-Draxler / Sane

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