Team Watch

Euro 2020 challengers: Germany are in transition, but still a favourite

As always, Joachim Low has an abundance of talent at his disposal, plus some fresh faces too

 
2:00pm on Sunday 15th November 2020
By
Paul Macdonald

Similar to Spain, Germany are another former world champion who are currently going through the transition phase with a very promising young core of talents

Most of the squad that had played a crucial part in their 2014 World Cup journey had reached the last stage of their respective careers or even retired.

Under the management of the man who has guided that golden generation to the most prestigious trophy in world football, Joachim Low, this group of youngsters is expected to lead the country back to glory.

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Squad information and preferred formation

With the current pandemic situation in Germany, it resulted in not many of their key players being called up to the national team due to them testing positive for coronavirus. But it is also a great chance for young players such as Felix Uduokhai or Florian Neuhaus to have their opportunity to showcase their talent while playing for the national team.

At the back, Marcel Halstenberg and Thilo Kehrer have withdrawn from the squad due to injury, which will be a big blow to the team’s defence. At the same time, third-choice keeper Oliver Baumann also returned to Hoffenheim as a precaution after some of his team-mates tested positive. To make matters worse, an injury that Joshua Kimmich suffered at Bayern will rule him out for a long period of time.

With the remaining players, it is expected that Low will line his side up in a 3-4-2-1 formation as it was this formation that he went with in their recent friendly against the Czech Republic. With two pivots staying in front of the defenders, it allows one of the two, usually Toni Kroos, to drop deeper to receive the ball from the centre backs. Meanwhile, the other pivot will look to stay in between the opposition’s pressure lines and attempt to link up with the attackers up front should they receive the ball.

Up front, the wingers will look to tuck inside and stay close to the lone striker with the intention of attacking the opposition’s defensive line with numerical superiority. This helps them to have possible passing options centrally and provides the team with a possible attacking direction, which is through the central area. The players are also capable of interchanging positions between each other in order to drag the opposition defenders out of their positions.

GER - Football tactics and formations

Tactics

When playing with a back-three, the outside centre backs prefer to stay slightly wider than their usual positions to provide space for the double pivot to drop deep to receive the ball. But as they stretch their build-up shape wider, it also invites the opposition’s front three to move forward and press them while attempting to isolate each centre-back at times. Still, with both wingers preferring to tuck inside and having both wing-backs to stay wide, they are capable of attacking the half-space and wide space with numerical advantage.

Numerical advantage is also something that Germany looks for in between the opposition’s defensive lines as the attackers will look to stay close to each other while both wing-backs will, at times, looking to pin down the opposition’s wing-backs. Should the opposition play with either a back-five or a back-four, Germany will be able to either match the defensive number or even outnumber them respectively. By gaining control of the space in between and, if possible, behind the opposition’s defensive line, they will have two possible attacking options of either down the central area or down either flank.

Defensively, they look to press high up the pitch using a man-oriented press in order to force the ball carrier to make a back pass or a long ball forward. With centre backs who are comfortable in the air like Niklas Sule, Robin Koch and Antonio Rudiger, Germany are capable of winning second balls and regaining possession quickly.

But, similarly to how they play out with a back-three, the outside centre-backs tend to look to stay wider, which the opposition can look to exploit with the space in between the centre backs. If the double pivot look to drop deep, the opposition midfielders will have more space to work into and make through passes that can create dangerous chances for the attackers.

Noticeable young star: Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

23 yrs - DM, AM (C) - M'gladbach
84 
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
504
Played matches
7
Duels won P90
4.83
Tackles Won P90
0.72
Shots P90
1.25
Shots On target P90
0.18
Successful passing %
87%
Final third passes P90
12.17

Neuhaus has been one of Gladbach’s key players since the 2018/19 season after a successful loan campaign at Fortuna Düsseldorf and he has never looked back since. Especially when Marco Rose took over Gladbach, he developed at a very quick rate and is now being considered as the future of Germany’s midfield.

Mostly when being used in Gladbach’s system, Neuhaus is considered as the playmaker of the side due to his tactical awareness and an excellent vision to pick out his teammates’ movement. But he is also capable of moving flexibly in the middle of the pitch in order to find the best position that allows him to receive and then pass the ball on.

This season, he has completed 53.8 out of his 62.7 passes per 90 minutes and has progressed the ball for 291.6 yards. They are very impressive numbers for a 23-year-old midfielder and shows that he is already showing signs of becoming a world-class player in the future. He has also created 0.72 shots per 90 minutes this season, which indicates he still has room to improve compared to 3.17 shots created per 90 minutes last season.

Conclusion

Germany have always been one of the leading countries in terms of developing players and introducing promising talents to not only Europe, but to the world. Many of those talents have went on to become world-class players and even driven the team to the World Cup title in 2014. Six years later, a new golden generation emerges, and with a squad that has an equal mix of energetic, young players and experienced veterans, Low and his players will be looking to bring the Euro and World Cup trophies back to Berlin.

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