Reigning world champions Germany will understandably be amongst many people’s pre-tournament favourites for this summers’ Euros. Despite them often underperforming in friendlies and even flattering to deceive at times in qualifying, it’s tournament football where they really come alive. The Bundesliga is now recognised as a breeding ground for talent and the place where most of the squad play their football, but the Premier League is also represented and here I look at what the English-based contingent could play for Die Mannschaft.
Germany coach Joachim Löw is loyal to his players and the inclusion of former Chelsea attacking midfielder Andre Schurrle and former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski bear witness to that, another example could well be Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Manchester United midfielder was once one the world’s elite in his position and played a key role in their World Cup win. Sadly though, his physical decline over the past two years has been sad to see of a once great player and his injury and fitness woes this past season are testament to that; so much so, that his inclusion in the squad could even be considered something of a surprise. That being said, although his influence on the pitch may not be what it was at his peak for Bayern Munich, he still possesses the mentality, mind-set and experience of a winner. Perhaps his value will be in the dressing room, helping the handful of inexperienced players in the squad, like Jonas Hector, Leroy Sane, Julian Weigl and Joshua Kimmich. His role could also be to come on late in games to shore up the midfield and see out a game.
Emre Can first established himself in the Liverpool team as a defender and after initially doing well as part of a back three, he began to find life difficult there and struggled at full-back. That, however, is the position he has been employed in so far by Löw in the National side, despite Can showcasing his talent for Liverpool this past season in his true position at the heart of the midfield. It’s been argued that this is just Löw’s way of integrating Can into this Germany team and perhaps also evidence of the world champions’ struggles to find a replacement for the now internationally retired Philipp Lahm. Can may eventually rival Dortmund’s Weigl to take the place of Sami Khedira, but for now it seems he will have to settle for a full-back role and he could have a tough time there this summer.
Arsenal’s Mesut Özil is a player as integral to his national side as he is to his club. The technically gifted playmaker has had an excellent season for the Gunners, racking up an impressive 19 assists in the Premier League from an incredible 146 chances created. He is a player not always appreciated by fans of Premier League clubs, who do not notice his work rate and often fail to recognise his off the ball movement. He is not a player of power and lung-bursting dribbles past opponents or smashing blockbuster shots into the top corner from 25 yards; he is all about technique, vision, guile and appreciation of team-mates. His return to form over the past year has been a timely one for Germany, who are most certainly aware of his influence and ability and will be the fulcrum of Die Mannschaft’s attacking play.
Aside from those currently plying their trade here, there also players in the Germany squad heavily linked with Premier League clubs. Left-back Jonas Hector has been terrific for FC Köln, giving balance to defending and attacking with Liverpool rumoured to be interested. Mario Götze is perhaps the highest profile of the Germany squad whose future is in doubt, Bayern have indicated he has little future there and the attacking midfielder will doubtless have a host of suitors if he decides to move on this summer with the Premier League a possible destination. Impressive youngsters Leroy Sane and Julien Weigl could also have the Premier League’s top clubs interested to see if they can have some impact on Euro 2016.
So, whether it’s the past, present or future, the Premier League’s influence on the Germany squad this summer could be an intriguing one.