Reuters, Wednesday 6 Jun 2012

GERMANY soccer team
GERMANY soccer team


Germany go into Euro 2012 among the favourites, but this time it has less to do with past successes and more to do with their modern game that has won over legions of new fans.

The three-time European champions have been without a major trophy for 16 years, despite being tagged favourites at most tournaments since 1996.

This time round, however, their Euro group rivals - Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark - will come up against one of the youngest, fastest and most furious German teams in at least a generation.

Players like Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer quickly made a name for themselves at the 2010 World Cup with a dazzling display of fast-paced football and lethal finishing that saw them crush England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 en route to a third-place finish.

The vast majority of coach Joachim Loew's players were just youngsters when Oliver Bierhoff, now the team's manager, scored a golden goal to hand Germany the Euro trophy in 1996.

Many of them were mere toddlers when Franz Beckenbauer coached the national side to their last of their three World Cup wins in 1990.

"It is clear that Germany go into such tournaments always as favourites," Loew said. "But it is also clear that there is not just one favourite, not just Germany. I have often said there is Spain, Italy, France, they are all among those capable of winning it."

On a good day Germany have shown they can beat any defence, having won all 10 of their Euro qualifiers and scored victories in friendlies over big names like Brazil, Netherlands and Uruguay in the past months.

"We have learned to take possession of the ball as quickly as possible. Our game has become more modern," said captain Philipp Lahm, at 28 one of the oldest in a team that also includes teenager Mario Goetze. "Of course, Spain remain the favourites."



Goalkeepers: 1-Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), 12-Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen), 22-Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96)

Defenders: 14-Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), 20-Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), 4-Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), 5-Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), 16-Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), 17-Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), 3-Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)

Midfielders: 15-Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), 19-Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund), 2-Ilkay Guendogan (Borussia Dortmund), 6-Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), 18-Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), 13-Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), 8-Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), 21-Marco Reus (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 9-Andre Schuerrle (Bayer Leverkusen), 7-Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: 23-Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), 11-Miroslav Klose (Lazio), 10-Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

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