After disappointing performances in recent tournaments, can Germany step it up on home soil at Euro 2024? We look at their prospects.

As the cliché goes, never write off the Germans. When international tournaments come around, theirs is a name that will always come up in conversation around prospective winners.

And yet, to those of a younger generation, perhaps that doesn’t feel entirely justified.

Germany did win the FIFA World Cup in 2014 but their record in major international tournaments has been underwhelming by their usual high standards since.

At Euro 2016, they were beaten 2-0 by hosts France in the semi-finals, before a disappointing group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup.

They were beaten in the last 16 by England at Euro 2020, which had somewhat of an end of an era feel to it given their previous impressive record against the Three Lions in tournament football.

Then at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, they suffered the same fate as the previous World Cup as they were surprisingly dumped out in the group stage again.

Germany will have home advantage at Euro 2024, though, with Julian Nagelsmann looking to recapture the magic that Joachim Löw did at the 2014 World Cup and guide them to unexpected glory. Even reaching the final would see them do so for the first time since they won at Euro 96.

Every time they’ve been the sole host of a major tournament, Germany have reached at least the semi-finals, winning the 1974 World Cup, reaching the final four at Euro 88 and finishing third at the 2006 World Cup.

Apart from that, what reasons for optimism are there this summer? Well, Nagelsmann has embraced fresh change. His provisional squad for Euro 2024 featured just 12 of the 26 players who new Barcelona boss Hansi Flick took to the World Cup 18 months ago, with plenty of new faces in the fold, and some old ones too.

Toni Kroos is back for his first international tournament since Euro 2020, having retired from the national team after the loss to England. He was persuaded back by Nagelsmann for Euro 2024, but that will be it for him as the Real Madrid star recently announced his career will end completely once the tournament is over.

His presence in midfield should be a big boost for Germany, who struggled to break down opponents at the 2022 World Cup, particularly in their damaging opening defeat to Japan.

Kroos lifted the Champions League for a record-equalling sixth time in his career on Saturday as Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the final at Wembley in his last club game. He made the most line-breaking passes in the competition (214), as well as the most leading to final third entries (69), showing that he still very much has ‘it’ at the highest level, despite his impending retirement.

Toni Kroos line breaking passes UCL 23-24

Only three players in Europe’s top five leagues to attempt a minimum of 130 passes this season had a better completion rate than Kroos (94.7%) and all three were centre-backs (Milan Skriniar, Thiago Silva and Jonathan Tah). With him back in the Germany midfield, he could help to unlock two of the brightest young talents in world football; a pair who will be expected to be the faces of the national team for years to come.

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz were sensational in 2023-24. The former may have been disappointed to miss out on the Bundesliga title, but blame could hardly be sent his way. Musiala recorded 16 goal involvements in 24 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich this season (10 goals, 6 assists), while no-one attempted more than his 7.8 dribbles per 90, with a very respectable 57.2% success rate.

Only five players created more chances from open play per 90 than Musiala (2.1) in the Bundesliga, one of whom was Wirtz (2.7). The Bayer Leverkusen attacker scored 11 goals and added 11 assists as Xabi Alonso’s side sensationally ran away with their first ever Bundesliga title, going undefeated in the league in the process.

Musiala goal involvements 23-24
Wirtz goal involvements 23-24

Wirtz’s 19 assists in all competitions was the most of anyone from Europe’s top five leagues, while only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes (111) created more than his 108 chances from open play. Whether or not Germany can take advantage of the chance creation of Musiala and Wirtz will depend on the potency of their attack.

With more young talent in Hoffenheim’s Maximilian Beier as well as older but equally inexperienced at international level options in Leverkusen’s Robert Andrich and Stuttgart’s Chris Führich, there are plenty of fresh and in-form options for Nagelsmann to choose from.

If output was a problem in past tournaments, the numbers in Nagelsmann’s provisional squad make for promising reading. Every outfield player recorded at least one goal involvement in one of Europe’s top five leagues this season, with a combined total of 132 goals and 128 assists between them (260 goal involvements). Stuttgart’s Waldemar Anton was the only player not to score a goal, though he did provide three assists for Sebastian Hoeness’ impressive runners-up.

Were they really so bad at recent tournaments, though? At Euro 2020, Germany were in a so-called ‘group of death’ with France, Portugal and Hungary. After losing 1-0 to France, they beat Portugal 4-2 and drew 2-2 with Hungary, leading to a last-16 clash with England at Wembley.

Overall, only Spain (2.47) and Netherlands (1.79) had a higher xG per 90 than Germany’s 1.58 during the tournament, which is pretty impressive when you consider the level of their four opponents. Their defeat to England was a disappointing showing, but even in that game they were largely ahead on expected goals (xG) until Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane struck late on for Gareth Southgate’s men.

England v Germany xG race

At the 2022 World Cup, despite only playing three games, only four teams attempted more shots than Germany, and three of those played the maximum of seven games (France, Argentina and Croatia; also Brazil – 5 games). As a result, unsurprisingly, Germany averaged the most shots per game at the tournament and the highest xG per game by some distance, with their 3.48 xG per game more than 1 higher than the next most, which was Brazil at 2.42 xG per game. Their average of 5.7 big chances created per game was also well ahead of second-place Brazil (3.8).

Going the other way, their 3.19 xG against was also less than the two teams who finished ahead of them in Group E, Spain (3.46) and Japan (5.69).

Even though Germany’s was a small sample, for all the frustration at their early exit, the underlying numbers seemed to be there. Inefficiency is hardly something you’d associate with Germany but that was the case in both penalty areas in Qatar.

Their UEFA Nations League campaign in 2022-23 wasn’t any better, winning just one of their six games in League A Group 3 (D4 L1), though that was an impressive 5-2 dismantling of European champions Italy. When everything clicks, Germany can still be a force to be reckoned with.

As hosts, Germany will kick things off at Euro 2024 when they face Scotland in their opening Group A game on Friday. In Steve Clarke’s men, along with Hungary and Switzerland, it is a potentially tricky task, though with only eight of the 24 teams at the tournament being eliminated at the group stage, it seems likely they will advance even with a hiccup or two.

Should they win the group they will likely play Denmark or perhaps even England in the last 16, then maybe Spain in the quarter-finals, Portugal in the semis and France in the final if they make it that far. Of course, they could potentially meet England in the final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Despite recent disappointments, there is every reason for Germany fans to be excited about their home Euros. With a bold young manager and team, this might just be the start of a cycle for most of them, but ahead of what feels like one of the most open European Championship tournaments in a while, don’t be surprised to see football come home for Germany this summer.

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