Euro Cup: Analysis of Germany: hope returns from the hand of Nagelsmann, the youngest coach of the Euro | Euro Cup Germany 2024 | Soccer

Hope has returned. The host team debuts this Friday against Scotland (at 9:00 p.m., La1). For a long time, it was feared that Germany could lose its colors in its home European Championship. There was a feeling that, as the host country, they had been lucky not to have to go through the qualifying phase, because they would hardly have been able to get ahead with the form they had last year.

Between March and September 2023, the Mannschaft He lost four games out of five against mediocre opponents and won none. Hansi Flick, who suffered the elimination of his team in the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, became the first German national coach to be dismissed. The final straw was the 4-1 home defeat to Japan in early September.

Germany turned to 36-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, and many fans celebrated him accepting a job that suddenly not many coaches wanted. Nagelsmann is bold, with more charisma than his predecessor, and brought dynamism to the team. However, luck did not improve immediately.

At the end of 2023, the chaotic German team was still in free fall. In a friendly against Turkey in November, Kai Havertz suddenly took over as left back, or “left midfielder,” in Nagelsmann’s words. The experiment was a failure and Germany lost 3-2, capped off with a new 2-0 defeat against neighbors Austria. After that defeat in Vienna, Nagelsmann commented in an interview with Der Spiegel: “We have to forget about our pedigree. We believe that Germany is a great football power, even though we have had years of accumulated failures.”

In March 2024, he brought back Toni Kroos and opted for a traditional line of four defenders, with Havertz once again playing closer to the opponent’s goal than his own. Germany has strength in attack, but Nagelsmann once again prioritizes possession over the counterattack. After a good 2-0 victory against France, the team came back to beat the Netherlands 2-1 in Frankfurt, and the mood has changed: a previously unstable team believes in itself again. The same thing happens with fans.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the situation has changed, but Germany is once again among the favorites to win the European Championship for their country.

The coach, Julian Nagelsmann

At just 36 years old, Julian Nagelsmann is the standard bearer of the German school of coaches: a tactical expert who never played professional football and who Mehmet Scholl once described as a coach “glued to a laptop.” Always willing to try new things, he got a scooter to get around Bayern’s training fields.

They continue to miss him at Hoffenheim, a team he rescued from the brink of relegation and which he led to play in the Champions League before leaving for RB Leipzig. He took them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2020. Bayern came knocking on his door the following year, only to dismiss him in March 2023 while he was enjoying a skiing holiday, although now they would be delighted to have him back. But Nagelsmann, to the surprise of many, extended his contract with the German Football Federation (DFB) until after the 2026 World Cup. When he took over, he promised to simplify things, only to complicate them even more. He did not take long to rectify it. He spent a lot of time searching for a vision for his national team and now emphasizes possession and control with Kroos. Now it remains to be seen if they get used to each other and the new approach.

The icon, Toni Kroos

The boss is back. For a long time, Toni Kroos was misunderstood by many Germans, who were disparagingly referred to as Querpass-Toni (Toni, the one with the lateral passes). After losing in the round of 16 of Euro 2021 against England, Uli Hoeness, legend of Germany and Bayern, declared: “Toni Kroos no longer fits in this football.” He returned to the national team this spring, something that Hoeness himself liked. The multiple Champions League winner can return success to German football.

With the first pass he gave upon his return to the team, he assisted Florian Wirtz in the goal that opened the scoring in the first minute against France. He took the helm of the party, and his teammates adore him. He always stays calm, never gets nervous. At 34 years old, he has just finished what may be his best season at Real Madrid. ¿Querpass-Toni? “Whoever continues writing that today has no idea about football,” says Nagelsmann. In May he announced that he will hang up his boots after the Euro Cup.

The player to watch, Florian Wirtz

Florian Wirtz helped turn perennial contenders Bayer Leverkusen into undefeated Bundesliga champions. He knows how to find holes and the shot at his goal is lethal. At only 21 years old, he has already played more than 100 games in the Bundesliga and is one of the best dribblers Germany has ever had. He is capable of turning at high speed, sneaking between defenders, as he did in his best goal of the year 2023 against Freiburg, with several breaks in a chain. “They don’t teach you that,” said his coach at Bayer Leverkusen, Xabi Alonso.

The nonconformist, Antonio Rüdiger

“Rüdiger, you will take me to the grave,” said actor and comedian Didi Hallervorden in the film Didi und die Rache der Enterbten. The phrase, from almost 40 years ago, fits Antonio Rüdiger like a glove. Sometimes the wild side of him gets the better of him, but everyone would rather have him on their team than face him. He is surely the strongest German player in the physical aspect. He seems to always have fun, is never afraid, and certainly never gives up. In the five years he spent at Chelsea he had some ups and downs, but he was one of the key pieces of the team that won the Champions League in 2021. When he signed for Real Madrid in 2022, he did not start in the center of defense , but now he is, and last season he led the team to a little more glory.

The spine, with Kroos and Havertz

Neuer, Rüdiger, Kroos, Havertz. It is an axis with a lot of experience, where each of the four players has won the Champions League at least once. How many teams have a midfield like that? But it can also be called the axis of doubt. Kroos was retired from the national team until recently (bringing him back has probably been Nagelsmann’s biggest decision to date). Manuel Neuer was injured for a long time, and is beginning to make unusual mistakes, like the one that cost Bayern so dearly at the Bernabéu in the Champions League semi-final. Rüdiger always stands out for his club, but often seems like a risky choice for the national team. And Havertz continues to fight for Niclas Füllkrug’s position. In theory, they are a world-class midfielder, but the truth is that they still have a lot to prove on the biggest stage.

Probable starting eleven

4-2-3-1: Manuel Neuer – Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rüdiger, Jonathan Tah, Maximilian Mittelstädt – Robert Andrich, Toni Kroos – Jamal Musiala, Ilkay Gündogan, Florian Wirtz – Kai Havertz

A famous fan

Herbert Grönemeyer. His music is as German as beer and sausages. He became known throughout the country as an actor when he starred in the war drama Das Boot (six Oscar nominations) in 1981, at only 21 years old. He sang his song Zeit, dass sich was dreht at the opening ceremony of the 2006 World Cup, held in Germany. He is seen as someone who speaks from the heart of the German nation, and that is why he also wrote an anthem for his hometown team, Bochum, which is always played when the players come out at the Ruhrstadion. Furthermore, he is a member of the national team fan club since 2016.

A culinary delight

The Stadionwurst sausage, which differs from other sausages by the simple fact that it is prepared and sold near a football stadium. It should be crunchy when you bite into it. It is usually served inside a bun and drunk with a beer. Professionals take it with mustard; blasphemers opt for ketchup. Bundesliga clubs sell them for between 3.50 and 5 euros, and in some stadiums they even have a vegan option. Uli Hoeness, World Cup winner and legendary Bayern Munich coach, is co-owner of a sausage factory in Nuremberg.

This article is a collaboration with The Guardian. Nicholas Horn He is a journalist at Die Zeit.

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