The sense that this German team is maturing at exactly the right time is becoming a very real one, and not just in the country itself.
Stylish coach Joachim Low – initially Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant for the World Cup hosted by the Germans in 2006 – has overseen an appearance in the Euro 2008 final and then reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup. In tournament football, the Germans tend to shine.
It’s been made tough for them this time though with the presence of Portugal, Holland and Denmark in their Group B – the dreaded ‘Group of Death’ – but Low will know that he has the quality in his squad to escape it. If that wasn’t proved during their 10 wins out of 10 in qualification against Turkey, Belgium, Austria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan then it can be gleaned from the performances of their players on the club stage.
Players such as Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil, who has become such a vital part of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid plans, where he features alongside compatriot Sami Khedira, and the Bayern Munich contingent of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, defenders Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng, midfield stars Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller and the free scoring forward Mario Gomez, the outright favourite to finish as top goalscorer (9/1 Paddy Power).
With a cast list like that, then it is little wonder that many are expecting a successful German production in Poland and the Ukraine, but it is the presence of the Dutch in their group which could throw a spanner in the works. Finish second in Group B, and they are likely to face Spain in the semi-finals as opposed to the final.
Not that Low and the German nation will even be considering something as unthinkable as second place in the group, but should they misfire against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in their opening match (Draw 13/5 with Stan James) then suddenly even more pressure will be heaped upon the meeting with the Dutch on June 13th in Kharkiv.
Still heavily fancied to get out of the group (7/2 to get exactly seven points with Ladbrokes), a last eight meeting with any of the sides from the weak Group A – Poland, Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic – won’t scare the Germans one bit, and once they get into their all too familiar knockout football mode then they are hard to stop. Those who want to oppose Spain might like a bet on the winning group being Group B – effectively a single on either Germany or Holland (or if Ronaldo’s on form even Portugal) – which is priced at 11/8 (Sportingbet).
Generally priced as second favourites for the tournament (7/2 Paddy Power) behind Spain though, a semi-final place looks almost assured for Low and company despite their tough group, with their combination of young talent and experienced stars working to great effect.
Two players not mentioned amongst the Real Madrid and Bayern Munich stars above are the Borussia Dortmund pair of defender Mats Hummels and midfield star Mario Gotze.
As two icons of the Dortmund side which won the Bundesliga title in 2011 they are already used to adulation in their own country, and entering their first major tournament with their national team will only spur them on. Hummels is just 23 and Gotze is 19, and the strong suspicion is that this won’t be the last time we’ll see them on the international stage.
We’ll be seeing the rest of their team-mates for most of the summer too, and if Spain aren’t going to win Euro 2012 then there’s every chance that Germany will.