With eight teams remaining at Euro 2016 and seven matches left to determine who will be the champions of Europe, bookmakers appear to be underestimating Germany.
Hosts France remain the favourites despite looking fairly average throughout the tournament, whilst Spain, who were second favourites after their 3-0 thrashing of Turkey, were eliminated in the second round.
Germany are the world champions and have a large number of the team that thrashed Germany 7-1 and beat Argentina in the final, at Euro 2016.
With that in mind, here are my five reasons why I believe Joachim Löw’s side will win the European Championships for a record fourth time:
1. Best Attack
Germany had the best attack on paper coming into the tournament and they’ve gone on to bombared their opponents’ goal in their first four games in France. Statistically they have had more efforts on goal than any other nation at Euro 2016.
Löw is blessed with an exceptional amount of creative talent in his suqad – Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller and Julian Draxler all in the starting lineup alone. Add to that full-backs Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector offering good support down the wings. The German coach also has Mario Götze, Leroy Sané, Bastian Schweinsteiger and André Schürrle to call upon from his bench too.
These names and their performances so far make it virtually impossible for defences to protect their goalkeeper for long periods of the game. So far it is only some poor finishing from Mario Gómez and Thomas Müller that hav prevented Germany’s margin of victory being much greater than the 1-0 scoreline versus Northern Ireland and 3-0 victory over Slovakia.
Germany did have issues up front in their first two games – versus Northern Ireland and their 0-0 draw with Poland when Götze was the ‘false number 9’. These issues now look fixed with the recall of Mario Gómez, scoring two goals in his two starts and teaming up with Müller better than what has actually been reported by journalists.
2. Protected Goalkeeper
Germany have gone all 360 minutes without conceding a single goal at Euro 2016 so far and have barely looked like conceding one either. Jérôme Boateng made a goalline clearance versus Ukraine and Manuel Neuer saved a close range header from Slovakia but that’s about all. You have to go back to the 2014 World Cup semi-final versus Brazil to see when they last conceded – Oscar’s consolation in the 1-7 humiliation.
Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels have been a solid partnership since Bayern Munich’s new signing returned from injury after the first game. Die Mannschaft have allowed fewer efforts on their goal than any of the quarter-finalists. Juventus’ Sami Khedira and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos doing a good job in protecting the back four.
Even if latter stage opponents are to create opportunities, Germany have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in Neuer to get past.
3. Player of the Tournament
Toni Kroos has been the best player of the tournament so far. He has run the German midfield that has spent the majority of their games in opposition territory and averaged the most possession. Kroos is laying the ball off to the likes of Özil, Müller and Draxler to create chances in and around the penalty area.
The Real Madrid midfielder has been very accurate with his passing and also delivers a good set piece. Ahead of Germany’s highly-anticipated quarter-final match versus Italy – Kroos has the potential to really hurt Antonio Conte’s side. Tire them out in midfield as they chase the ball and open up their weakened midfield.
There are doubts over the fitness of Italy’s 32-year-old Daniele De Rossi starting opposite Kroos after limping off early in the second half in their win over Spain on Monday. Even if fit, the Roma midfielder hasn’t completed 90 minutes once this summer. Thiago Motta, who has replaced De Rossi in his three starts, is suspended. Marco Verratti isn’t in the squad due to injury. Italy’s defence and midfield have good reason to be fearful on Saturday.
4. Little Competition
Germany are years ahead of the competition in terms of talent and development. This has been the case for a couple of years now – going back to when I tipped them to win the 2014 World Cup. I have tipped and backed them to win Euro 2016 also and I’m more confident than ever.
Why? There’s virtually no competition to stop them. Spain are eliminated after not looking as good as they were 4-6 years ago, Croatia bottled it versus Portugal having looked good in their group, England were never serious contenders and France are looking mediocre.
Italy headed into Euro 2016 with journalists back home claiming this was their weakest squad ever – despite being eliminated from the group stage in Brazil two years ago! Sure, they have a great manager and a great defence but they have nothing to off the Germans. Don’t be surprised if Germany tear open that back three in a similar fashion to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final 13 months ago (granted, Giorgio Chiellini didn’t feature). And Graziano Pellè and Éder to hurt Germany’s defence? Good one.
Two years’ time in Russia I already have Germany down as clear favourites as well.
France are producing some good talent but they’re a long way short of Germany right now. This summer they have been unlucky with injuries at centre-back – Raphaël Varane, Aymeric Laporte and Kurt Zouma all missed the tournament and all would have started ahead of Adil Rami. I cannot see the Seville defender, along with Laurent Koscielny, holding out the German attack should they meet in the semi-final. Didier Deschamps’ side have also been heavily reliant on Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann in attack. Simply not enough. They need to develop a lot of talent if they’re to win the 2018 World Cup – two new full-backs and another playmaker at least, as well as some depth. At least Karim Benzema should be available by then…
Spain are producing some good young talent too but right now they don’t look on par with the talent they had between 2008-12, winning all three major tournaments. Who’s the next Andrés Iniesta? Have they replaced Xavi? Who’s going to replace Sergio Ramos? Who’s going to lead the line up front? Again, they are far short on Germany’s level right now.
Argentina is the last hopeful in Russia. Yet they seem to be in a bit of turmoil following their 2016 Copa América final defeat to Chile last week. Lionel Messi has retired and other stars are reporting to be considering their futures too with the national team. Three final defeats in 24 months – there’s something about Argentina and failure.
5. Winners Time and Time Again
If there’s one thing you can associate with the German national team more than anything else, it’s winning Four times World Champions and three time winners of the European Championships.
Only Brazil have more World Cups and quite frankly, I think Germany will be the first nation to win the trophy for a sixth time at this rate.
It’s in their blood to win and whilst it might sound a bit cliché I can back it up by saying that their squad consists of many Bayern Munich players who have a winning mentality in their blood. A couple have played for Real Madrid in recent seasons too whilst Mesut Özil has won the FA Cup with Arsenal.
Forget about their performances in qualifying and friendlies – Germany always raise their game in tournaments and I firmly believe they are the clear favourites to win Euro 2016. Don’t believe me? Let’s see what they do to Italy on Saturday night…
Germany are 4.1 to win Euro 2016 with Betfair – these odds will shrink after they beat Italy so jump on them now.