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UEFA Europa League

Can Germany overcome issues to write themselves into Euro history?

Germany will face Ukraine, Poland and Northern Ireland in Group C. Here's a look at their squad and how they will fare at Euro 2016.

At a glance

The 2014 World Cup winners want to follow in Spain's footsteps and take the continental crown as well, but it's not going to be easy.

Home view

Germany fans usually expect the worst and doubts have played a major role in the buildup to every tournament. Will Die Mannschaft have enough quality? Will all the key players be fit? Did they have enough time to train with the complete squad?

This time around, though, the feeling has been amplified by several injuries, as well as the fact that the side have not kept a clean sheet in their last nine matches. The mediocre performances since the 2014 World Cup add to it too. It's a tournament between tournaments, Joachim Low has said in the past. And it certainly feels like it. The old guard is either gone -- Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker -- or is struggling -- Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski -- for form or fitness.

The national team have also not profited from general manager Oliver Bierhoff's excessive marketing efforts and the rising of ticket prices. These days, home games are rarely sold out. Efforts from right-wing parties to divide the country, however, have been unsuccessful. Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Emre Can, Antonio Rudiger all represent a multi-cultural Germany as the national team looks to write themselves into history this summer.

Star man

Toni Kroos. While Thomas Muller might be the obvious choice, the Real Madrid midfielder will be the central player for Germany. Fellow holding midfielder Khedira will go into the tournament without a competitive match since late April, after suffering injury with Juventus, and captain Schweinsteiger has been struggling with fitness issues throughout the year for Manchester United. Youngsters Julian Weigl and Joshua Kimmich are too inexperienced.

Kroos, the only player born in the German Democratic Republic to ever lift the World Cup, will need to carry the team through the group stages. He is the best footballer in Low's squad, and is the strategist who will set the pace of the game. "In the end it's like that: The more I possess the ball, the more dominant we play, and the more often we win," he recently said. The midfielder even scores goals himself and his shooting technique is as good as his passing.

Potential pitfalls

Injuries have already stopped Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, and they could still stand in the way of Schweinsteiger and Mats Hummels. The captain resumed training with the ball towards the end of the training camp in Switzerland, while the new Bayern centre-back is still nursing a calf injury and could miss the opening game.

Germany have lacked a real goal scorer since Klose retired; they were outscored by Poland in their qualification group and only struck two more goals than Scotland. Eleven of their 24 goals came from the two matches against European minnows Gibraltar. Low has brought back Mario Gomez, the Turkish Super Lig's top scorer in 2015-16; Muller has regularly found the back of the net for Bayern Munich this season while Andre Schurrle hit nine in Bundesliga for Wolfsburg. But it still feels like something is missing up front despite the presence of Podolski.

The full-back positions have also been a problem for Germany in the past, and Low is likely to either use a non-specialist like Benedikt Howedes, Can or Mustafi. He also may move tactical formations between a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 system.

Predicted finish

Germany have reached at least the semifinal stages of their last five tournaments and won the 2014 World Cup so should walk into the quarterfinals, and also one step further.

Anything but the last four would be a major disappointment for the Nationalmannschaft. But that's where the journey for Germany should end in 2016.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.


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