France are the narrow favourites to win Euro 2016, but Barrie – of Barrie’s View – isn’t tipping the hosts to rule the continent this summer. He’s firmly behind Germany. But why? Here’s why…
There are seven teams left and six matches to play at Euro 2016 before we find out who will be crowned the new champions of Europe.
Football giants Spain and England have both fallen at the way side in the second round, whilst hosts France remain the favourites ahead of their quarter-final tie with Iceland.
Prior to their 3-0 thrashing of Slovakia, Germany had been third favourites with the bookmakers despite looking head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
Here are five reasons why I believe Joachim Löw’s side will lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy on Sunday 10 July:
1. German firepower
Germany have bombarded their opponents’ goal in their first four games, firing in more shots than any other nation in France this summer. With Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller and Julian Draxler all in the starting lineup, it’s virtually impossible for defences to protect their goalkeeper. Löw also has Mario Götze, Leroy Sané, Bastian Schweinsteiger and André Schürrle to call upon whilst Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector offer good width supporting from full-back.
The head coach has fixed Germany’s problem up front in their past two games with the recall of Mario Gómez. It didn’t work out for Götze against Northern Ireland or Poland but the Be?ikta? striker has netted in each of his starts. He is teaming up well with Müller in getting in goalscoring positions.
2. Efficient defence
Germany are the only nation yet to concede a goal at Euro 2016 and haven’t conceded a single goal at a major tournament since Oscar’s stoppage time consolation for Brazil in their 7-1 semi-final hammering at the World Cup two years ago. Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels are forming a solid partnership in France before they officially become Bayern Munich teammates next season.
They also have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer who has made a couple of top saves when called upon in this tournament. Though Germany have allowed fewer shots on their goal than any other nation competing in France this summer. Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos offer good protection in front of the back four and averaging the most possession as they do, opponents don’t get long on the ball to create a chance. It’s not out of the question that they will go the remainder of the tournament without conceding a single goal in all seven games.
3. Toni Kroos
The player of the tournament so far, Toni Kroos has run the German midfield that has spent the majority of time in the opposition half. The Real Madrid midfielder does lack the finishing touch but is creating a handful of chances for teammates per game. On top of that, he is laying the ball off in good positions for the likes of Özil, Müller and Draxler to create chances too.
Kroos can play any pass and is leaving opposition midfielders chasing the ball, tiring them out. Italy will have 32-year-old Daniele De Rossi starting opposite Kroos, if fit, and the Roma midfielder hasn’t even completed 90 minutes once this summer. Thiago Motta, who has replaced De Rossi in his three starts, is suspended, whilst Marco Verratti didn’t make the tournament due to injury. Italy have a lot to fear on Saturday.
4. Minimal competition
Germany are years ahead of the rest of the world. I tipped them to win the 2014 World Cup two years ago and have backed them since the start of Euro 2016.
#GER will win the 2014 World Cup.
— Barrie’s View (@BarriesView) June 21, 2014
I already think they’ll defend the World Cup in Russia in two years’ time. Why? There’s virtually no competition out there for them. They are producing talent after talent whilst this squad is still young and some of the best players in the world right now.
France are producing some good talent but they’re far short of Germany right now. This summer they’ve been unlucky with injuries at centre-back to Raphaël Varane, Aymeric Laporte and Kurt Zouma. I cannot see Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami handling this German attack if they meet in the semi-finals.
Another nation producing good players is Argentina but they appear to be in a bit of disarray following their third consecutive major international tournament final defeat in 24 months (starting with the 2014 World Cup against Germany) – Lionel Messi notably retiring and I’m unaware of young, talented defenders coming through.
Spain have had back-to-back poor tournaments coinciding with both Real Madrid and Barcelona have a number of foreigners in key positions (goalkeeper, attack) which could hurt the national team’s future given the number of Real Madrid and Barcelona players who started the 2008, 2010 and 2012 finals.
Brazil, Netherlands and England are miles behind.
5. Perennial winners
If there’s one word you associate with the German national team it’s ‘winning’. Time and time again. Only Brazil have more World Cups (and I’d predict Germany to be the first nation to win six right now) and winning this summer’s tournament will make them the record champions of the European Championship. The starting lineup is full of winners, from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and even Mesut Özil has won the FA Cup.
Forget their performances in qualifying and friendlies – Germany always step it up when it comes to tournament time and if you don’t believe they’re the clear favourites in my mind right now, wait until Saturday night when they show you what they’re capable of.