German machine up and running

Never before has Die Mannschaft seemed a more suitable nickname for the German national team that it does at the present moment.

Football News: Thomas Muller, Germany

Meaning "crew members of a ship" or "soldiers belonging to a military unit", Mannschaft refers to a group of individuals working together in perfect unison towards a common cause.

And not only is it a suitable moniker for Joachim Low's charges, it is also an ominous warning to the other Euro 2012 finalists to beware - for the current German side are, quite simply, as efficient as a machine.

Germany

World ranking (as of November 2011): 3
Coach: Joachim Low

51-year-old Low has racked up some impressive credentials since making his managerial debut in 1996, having managed the likes of Stuttgart, Fenerbahce and Karlsruher SC. However, it was only when he became Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant in 2004 that he really rose to prominence.

Credited for an extremely influential role in Germany's run to the bronze medal at the 2006 World Cup, Low was handed the head job after Klinsmann stepped down, and has achieved what was previously unthinkable - making the Germans an even more efficient outfit.

An increased focus on youth has seen Low unearth a number of gems in recent years, all of whom have gone on to establish themselves as key members of the present Die Mannschaft team.

Can they win it?

A resounding 'yes'.

Looking all over the pitch, it is hard to find any area where the German are lacking in quality, even in reserve.

In goal, Manuel Neuer is currently regarded as one of the best stoppers in the world, while the likes of Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Per Mertesacker and Philipp Lahm provide a good mix of defensive cover and support in attack.

Up front, Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose, both lethal hitmen in their own right, will challenge for the sole striker berth, but it is perhaps in midfield where Low has an abundance of quality.

Sami Khedira is a shoo-in in defensive midfield, while Bastian Schweinsteiger is a guaranteed starter due to his experience and dynamism. Lukas Podolski has made the left-wing berth his own in recent years, but the likes of Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze have brought even more energy and quality to the German attack.

But the one person that links all this individual brilliance together, is Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Ozil, who could announce himself as the best player in the world if he stars in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

Time just seems to stand still when Ozil is in possession of the ball, and he never fails to pick out the right pass despite opposition coaches' attempts to crowd him out. When he is full flight, not even the best defenders in the world are capable of containing the 23-year-old.

With Ozil dictating play for a skillful yet efficient German side, Low's men head into next summer's finals as one of the clear favourites for the tournament. The rest should be very afraid.

Best performance at European Championships: Winners (1972 & 1980 - as West Germany, 1996)



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