Germany is amongst the favourite teams to win the Euro 2012 and coach Joachim Loew’s strength will be stretched to the fullest is his team is to triumph in Poland and Ukraine.
The Germans, who last win the tournament in 1996 after beating England in the final, came so close to winning the trophy four years ago when they lost the final to Spain.
Perhaps this is a time when the Germans think time has come for them to win another major trophy after 16 years of yawning for glory. All eyes are now on head coach Loew.
Loew was the assistant to coach Jurgen Klinnsman at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea before he took over as the head coach when his boss was sacked.
As the head coach, he has managed to take the team beyond the quarter final stage of every major international tournament. The quiet coach is known for gloaming young stars and giving them chance to exhibit their talents on the big stage.
But the big question mark hangs on his trust in the Arsenal defender Per Martesacker as one of his most experienced men in the back line.
Based on Mertesacker’s defensive record at Arsenal coupled with his displays in Germany’s last warm-up matches, it’s not hard to point at him as the weak link in their defence.
Perhaps Loew has been overshadowed by his vast experience in the Germany team but the player lacks speed, agility and skill to handle quick strikers.
His critics think he did not even deserve to be amongst 23-players to represent Germany in Ukraine and Poland.
Mertesacker was in the hearty of the German defence in their 5-3 defeat against Switzerland in one of the final Euro 2012 warm-up games. During that game, the Arsenal man was very much exposed and was the weak leak. He played alongside Dortmund defender Matts Hummels, who proved to be a better defender.
During the second final warm-up game against Israel, Loew fielded Mertesacker alongside Holger Badstuber of Bayern Munich and although Germany did not concede, remember Israel will not take part at the Euro 2012 and don’t have serious strikers.
Against Israel, Germany defenders had strong shield from their midfielders. Sami Khedira and Bastian Scweinstiager seem to be the preferred partnership in the heart of the midfield.
Germany that kick-start their Euro 2012 against Portugal this Saturday are drawn in a group of death alongside the Netherlands and DenMark.
I think Portugal will provide a tougher opposition in the group than any other team. The Portuguese have talented and speedy players especially in attack.
The likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Nani and Danny of Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian league are all classy strikers, who would cause all sorts of problems for any defence in this year’s tournament.
Perhaps Loew will be able to call on Dortmund’s Matt Hummels in the central defence to play alongside Jerome Boateng or Baldstuber. Skipper Philip Lahm and talented Dortmund left back Marcel Schmeltzer are fit enough to cover the right and left full backs respectively.