The 2021 European Championships take place in little over three months’ time and for once Germany don’t go into the tournament as one of the favourites. A poor showing at the World Cup in Russia as well as some eyebrow-raising results (a 6-0 defeat to Spain) means national team trainer Joachim Löw has some serious thinking to do about his squad. Does he stick with the current selection or is there room for one or two surprise inclusions?
The situation is made a little cloudier by the fact that some of the names you would normally consider as shoo-ins, are currently out of form and playing below their best level. Elsewhere, you have uncapped players pushing for selection and on paper worth a spot in the squad based on current form.
Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz, and Thilo Kehrer to name just a few are not hitting the high notes this season and may be relying on past performances to book their places in the final squad.
So, who realistically could make a push for a surprise inclusion in the Bundestrainer’s final selection?
His spectacular goal in Eintracht Frankfurt’s matchday 22 win over Bayern Munich with Jogi Löw in attendance will have done the 27-year-old’s chances no harm at all. With the Bundestrainer publicly praising the ex-Ajax and Napoli midfielder, seeing him in the squad this summer wouldn’t be too much of a shock.
Since returning to Germany, the diminutive playmaker has slotted effortlessly into the Frankfurt side and helped propel them into the Champions League positions. “Younes played a very good game. He is gradually finding his rhythm again,” Löw told Sport1 following the Bayern win.
“He has great technical ability and displays great vision on the pitch. He’s a player, who handles one-on-one situations in the best possible way.”
If the plan was to play your way into the trainer’s plan, then Amin Younes is playing a very clever game. Having been selected in the 2017 Confederations Cup squad, he is already a player the national coach has on his radar.
The fact that Bayer Leverkusen have not overly missed the departure of Kai Havertz to Chelsea can be put down in large part to the fact that they had young Florian Wirtz ready and willing to inherit the mantle.
With Havertz (and Timo Werner) struggling somewhat in their first season in the Premier League with Chelsea, their places in the final squad will be based on past performances, rather than present influence. Wirtz on the other hand can point to an impressive showing overall in this season’s Bundesliga.
Still just 17-years-old, the creative midfielder has cemented his place in the Werkself’s starting XI and has contributed four goals and five assists thus far this season. What’s the saying? If you’re good enough, then you’re old enough.
The defence is one of Yogi Löw’s main causes of concern with the hammering at the hands of Spain highlighting some major defects in the back line. Neither Niklas Süle, Matthias Ginter, Antonio Rüdiger, Lukas Klostermann or Jonathan Tah have been successful in putting together a whole run of positive displays that would guarantee their place.
Looking elsewhere in the Bundesliga, a surprise candidate has popped up in the most unexpected of places- Berlin’s Köpenick district and Union Berlin. 25-year-old Marvin Friedrich is one of the top-scoring defenders having scored four times already this season and must surely be creeping into the Bundestrainer’s thought process.
“Friedrich the Great! It’s almost unbelievable what he’s doing at the moment. Playing so consistently is extraordinary. If you then score goals as a central defender, that’s really something. He’s a player who needs a lot of trust. He gets that here. For me, Marvin is currently one of the best central defenders playing in the Bundesliga” Union manager Oliver Ruhnert recently told the Berliner Zeitung.
One of the best central defenders in the Bundesliga? Surely worth a place in the Euro 2021 squad.
The big one! Will Joachim Löw finally back down and admit he was wrong to end Thomas Müller’s international career?
Going for youth over experience has its merits and building for the future is all well and good, but when a player is hugely instrumental in his side achieving a domestic double and adding the Champions League trophy, providing a record number of assists, and not showing any signs of slowing down, then surely a rethink is in order.
The Raumdeuter certainly feels ready to step back into the fray. “I feel like chasing titles in the summer,” Müller told Sky Sports Germany after helping Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 at the weekend. “We’ll see if it’s the end for me after the Champions League final or whether I will play for the national team. I’m definitely ready.”
Over to you Jogi.
Is there anyone you think deserves a surprise call-up? Leave your comments below.