Fresh from World Cup glory in Brazil, Germany made a rather inauspicious start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Joachim Low’s men scrambled to beat Scotland at home before falling 2-0 to Poland in their second game. A late, late equaliser in Gelsenkirchen then allowed the Republic of Ireland to take a point from the world champions.
While there was never any sense of a crisis, this was a qualifying campaign in which Germany flattered to deceive by their own high standards.
However, they soon turned things around, winning six of their final seven games, the high point coming in a 3-1 win over Poland in Frankfurt where World Cup Final winning goalscorer Mario Gotze hit a brace.
They were again forced to work hard to come out best in a five-goal ding-dong with Scotland at Hampden Park though, and then lost to the Irish in Dublin in the penultimate group game.
The campaign ended with an unconvincing home success against Georgia, Max Kruse netting the decisive goal 11 minutes from time after Georgia had cancelled out a Thomas Muller penalty.
Euro Follow On
Despite that rather shoddy qualifying effort, Germany harbour high hopes that they can emulate France (Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2012) as recent world champions that also went on to win the European Championship at the next attempt.
Low has a squad made up predominantly of 20-something players and, as a group, the current Germany crop have not hit their peak just yet.
Bayern Munich’s Muller was hugely influential through qualifying, scoring nine times in nine appearances.
Wolfsburg’s Kruse has played his part too while his club-mate Julian Draxler is now looking every inch a star in the making. Lukas Podolski may be 30 years old but, with close to 50 international goals, he is an assured presence in this Germany squad.
In the middle third, Germany have an embarrassment of riches. Gotze’s talent is clear while Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil routinely prises open any defence he meets and Andre Schurrle is a regular on the scoresheet when Low calls on him.
At the back, the supremely talented Manuel Neuer is protected in goal by the likes of Jerome Boateng, Jonas Hector and Mats Hummels.
Everywhere you look, the German squad is bursting with quality. Renowned as a team that knows how to make progress in tournament football, Low’s side showcased their bag of tricks in Brazil two years ago.
They swatted Brazil away in devastating, remorseless fashion in the 7-1 semi-final win before hanging tough to deny Argentina in the final.
Lowering the mast of this German side will be quite a task.
They begin against Ukraine in Lille on June 12 before once more tackling neighbours Poland at the Stade de France four days later. They remain in the capital to face Northern Ireland at the Parc des Princes on June 21.
Germany have high hopes of adding Euro 2016 success to their CV and, looking at their squad, it is easy to understand why.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Bernd Leno (Leverkusen)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Emre Can (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Roma)
Midfielders: Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund), Leroy Sane (Schalke)
Forwards: Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Andre Schurrle (Wolfsburg)