Germany's Euro 2016 School Report

The dust has now started to settle after Euro 2016, and it is time for the tournament school report, where we gather together all of the numbers from Germany’s summer campaign in France and crunch them all together into one sticky bowl of statistical soup. While the Nationalmannschaft’s campaign was not quite able to match the success that saw Jogi Löw’s men lift the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, there are still a number of heroes – as well as a couple of zeros.

The Euro Heroes

The first of Germany’s Euro 2016 heroes is Jérôme Boateng, whose tournament reads like a Greek tragedy. A world-class performance highlighted by a dramatic goal-line clearance in the opening match against Ukraine, a thundering first-ever goal for the Nationalmannschaft against Slovakia, his almost balletic handball against Italy that was soon followed by his penalty shootout redemption, and then his heartbreaking injury in the semi-final against France.

The FC Bayern München centre-back was many people’ choice for Germany’s man of the tournament, and he also made the UEFA top XI too. Unsurprisingly, he finishes top of the Schwarz und Weiß list for his consistently strong performances.

An unexpected hero was Boateng’s young FC Bayern team mate, Joshua Kimmich. After sitting out the opening two games against Ukraine and Poland, the twenty-one year old was named in the starting eleven for the final group phase match against Northern Ireland – and never looked back. He played every minute until the semi-final defeat, and showed maturity beyond his years with his clinical penalty against the Italians.

Putting the inexperienced Kimmich at right-back was a major roll of the dice by Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw, but it looks as though we might have found a potential long-term successor to World cup winning captain Philipp Lahm.

The Euro Zeros

There were two zeros – one largely expected, and the other a complete surprise.

Mario Götze has struggled for both club and country since scoring the winning goal in Rio, and he was arguably the most disappointing player in a German Trikot in France. Having failed twice as a false nine in the opening two games he was then switched to the midfield, only to draw a blank again. Götze was subbed off every time he made a start, and his appearance in the semi-final off the bench was more in desperation than anything else.

The other flop – though this is somewhat relative – was Thomas Müller, who apart from some bright moments looked far from his best. Der Raumdeuter was energetic as usual and one of five German players to spend every minute on the pitch, but his threat in front of goal completely deserted him. Having scored nine goals in the ten qualifying matches Müller was one of the favourites to finish as the tournament’s top scorer, nobody would have expected him to draw a complete blank in France.

Statistics are a curious thing. While Müller has been right at the top of his game at the World Cup, the Euros have always coincided with a massive drop in form. His run of six matches without scoring at Euro 2016 is second only to a barren run that covered all of 2012 – which included the Euro 2012 tournament. Had Müller come even remotely close to his best form in France, it is fair to say that Germany would have won the tournament. Still, we have a World Cup in two years’ time, and we all know how much he enjoys those.

The School Report

So, here it is. Nineteen tournament summaries, from those who played every minute (Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil, Jonas Hector, Müller) through to eleven-minute man Leroy Sané.

Manuel Neuer

Was a titan throughout, and were it not for his one lapse in the semi-final would have gone through the tournament without conceding a goal from open play. Neuer commanded his penalty area with authority, and did what he needed to to maintain a clean sheet for the best of five matches before finally conceding from the penalty spot against Italy. Then there was the shootout against the Italians, which saw the Bayern man make two excellent saves. As one might expect of a goalkeeper, was pitch for every match.

One of first choice picks in this German team, and will surely become the first German goalkeeper to reach one hundred international caps.

Joshua Kimmich

After making his tournament bow in the third group game against Northern Ireland, the highly-rated Kimmich never looked back. Capable of playing almost anywhere, the talented twenty-one year old slipped seamlessly into the troublesome right-back slot, where he was a revelation with his attacking runs and willingness to put the ball into the opposition penalty area. Showed nerves of steel in the penalty shootout, and was lucky not to get himself on the scoreboard in the semi-final. Was involved in the catalogue of errors that resulted in the second French goal in the semi-final, but was not solely to blame.

One of the finds of the tournament, and was rightly picked as a member of UEFA’s select tournament XI.

Jérôme Boateng

The big central defender was – according my own ratings at least – Germany’s best player of the tournament. Boateng has developed rapidly in recent years, and brought a stability to a German back line that harked back to the defensive units of the 1970s and 1980s. Was heroic in defence with his intelligence, positioning and pace, and was also a constant danger moving forward with his excellent passing and accurate long balls. He even managed to score his first international goal – something that was both richly deserved and well overdue.

His crazy handball in the quarter-final against Italy can be forgiven – he more than made for it with his calm execution in the penalty shootout – and his injury in the semi-final was a major blow. More than anything else, it showed just how important a player he has become. Not surprisingly, Boateng also made the UEFA select XI.

Mats Hummels

After missing the opening match against Ukraine through injury, the Bayern-bound central defender was a solid rock in the excellent German back four, combining brilliantly with Boateng. Was solid in defence and offered plenty going forward, and his tacking was at times just too good – particularly for the officials. After being booked for a clean tackle in the second round match against Slovakia, Hummels was shown a second yellow following an Italian fall in the quarter-final – resulting in his being suspended for the semi-final.

Together with Boateng, a fit Hummels should remain a mainstay of a German defensive unit that will only improve.

Jonas Hector

Started out slowly, but improved as the tournament went along. Was able enough defensively and offered little going forward in the group matches, but this changed ahainst Slovakia when he was able to offer more of an attacking threat. Was solid thereafter, and was also able to get his name in the lost and rich penalty shootout history by netting the winning kick in the quarter-final. One of the five tournament ever-presents.

The 1. FC Köln man will surely get better, and it looks as though the German coach has a permanent solution at left-back.

Benedikt Höwedes

The Schalke 04 man was seen by many as the Nationaltrainer’s lucky charm, but the spell was finally broken in the semi-final against France. Höwedes started out in what was for him an unfamiliar position at right-back, and after two questionable performances was benched in favour of Joshua Kimmich. Made two substitute appearances for Jérôme Boateng in the middle of the back four, and was recalled to the starting eleven for the semi-final in place of Mats Hummels.

Höwedes is never going to be as good as Hummels, but he was solid enough. Executed what was arguably the tackle of the tournament when French striker Olivier Giroud was bearing down on the German goal.

Shkodran Mustafi

Started in place of the injured Mats Hummels against Ukraine, and capped off a fine display with his first tournament goal to get Germany’s tournament under way. Was unlucky to be benched, but made a second appearance as a substitute for the unfortunate Boateng in the semi-final. Was easily out-foxed by France’s Paul Pobga for Les Bleus’ second goal, and then lashed an excellent chance over the bar.

Mustafi is a solid defender who clearly appears to be a confidence player, and there is every possibility that he could develop well in time for the next World Cup in 2018.

Sami Khedira

Solid without ever really being spectacular, Khedira was not his usual self. His fitness was always going to be an issue as the tournament wore on, and after seeing through the full ninety minutes in the opening two matches it was all downhill from there. After twice being subbed late on against Northern Ireland and Slovakia, he was unable to make it past the opening quarter of an hour against Italy. The injury would also see him miss out on the semi-final.

A fit Khedira will also be a first-choice pick in the defensive midfield, but fitness issues continue to be a problem.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Many commentators questioned the inclusion of the injury-plagued skipper, and apart from a couple of bright moments everybody’s fears largely proved correct. Schweinsteiger entered the tournament with a bang as he came on as a late substitute against Ukraine and scored with his first touch, and the strategy of introducing him late on appeared to work until Sami Khedira started to break down. The result was more unexpected minutes, including a gruelling 105 minutes against Italy that also saw him miss his penalty in the shootout.

Started the semi-final well against France – setting a new record of thirty-eight tournament matches in the process – but faded badly after giving away the penalty late on in the first half. Didn’t finish the match, and one gets the feeling that this tournament may well be his last.

Toni Kroos

The string-puller in the middle of the pitch, Kroos looked at times as if he was attached to the ball by a long piece of string. His distribution was prolific and accurate, and when he was on form the Real Madrid man allowed the allowed the Mannschaft to completely dictate the tempo and dominate the opposition. At times, he would notch up more passes than the entire opposition put together. Could have been better from set pieces, but you can’t have everything. Was on the pitch for every minute of Germany’s campaign at Euro 2016.

Unsurprisingly, Kroos was the third German player selected for UEFA’s top starting XI.

Emre Can

Made one appearance, playing for just over an hour in the semi-final. Having been played before at right-back the Liverpool man looked far more comfortable shoring up the defensive midfield, and there were strong arguments for selecting him ahead of Bastian Schweinsteiger rather than alongside him.

Thomas Müller

Germany’s World Cup wonder clearly doesn’t like the Euros that much, and his showing over the six complete matches he played was arguably the difference between Germany’s semi-final exit and a fourth European crown. Perhaps it is too much to expect of one player, but Müller has never had any problems taking responsibility. He tried his hardest and there was no lack of effort, but he was missing that sharpness and killer touch that has made him one of world’s best.

Six matches with just one assist was a poor return for a player of Müller’s quality, and it was clear that it was not going to happen for him. The perfect summary of his tournament was his penalty in the shootout against Italy – a tame effort that was easily saved by Gigi Buffon.

Despite drawing a complete blank in France, Müller remains one of Germany’s most valuable players, and he will surely find his mark again. As they say: form is temporary, but class is permanent.

Mesut Özil

The mercurial playmaker started out slowly, and was clearly missing a target man ahead of him. The selection of Mario Gómez for the final group game against Northern Ireland ticked that box, sparking an upturn in Özil’s form. A man of the match performance against the Northern Irish was followed by an excellent showing against Slovakia – where he could even get away with a missed penalty – and against Italy he was always dangerous, capping off a fine performance with what should have been the winning goal. Any fitness concerns have long since been forgotten, and the Arsenal man was on the pitch for every minute of the German Euro campaign.

Özil was the Mannschaft’s most creative force, but it is clear that he cannot do it all by himself.

Julian Draxler

Draxler was borderline disappointing in his first two starts, but having been restored to the starting eleven against Slovakia turned out what was arguably his best performance in a German Nationaltrikot. Was unlucky to be benched for the following match against Italy and offered little threat when he did come on, but kept his cool in the penalty shootout to strike the best Elfmeter of the evening.

Was a disappointment in the semi-final, which provided the perfect summary of his overall inconsistency.

Mario Götze

The coach tried so hard to get Götze into his stride, but finally saw the light three matches into the tournament. The hero of Rio two years earlier could only float around aimlessly as the false nine experiment was canned after just two matches, and his being refactored as a midfielder against Northern Ireland was just as painful to watch. Götze was not able to even complete a full match, and was benched ahead of the second round match against Slovakia.

After missing out on the quarter-final Götze cane off the bench in the semi-final, but any hope of him repeating his magical Maracanã moment disappeared in a swamp of anonymity. Arguably the Mannschaft’s most disappointing player.

André Schürrle

Schürrle was a vital impact player two years ago in Brazil where he scored three goals, but this time he was little more than a bit-part. Came off the bench in all three group phase games with little or no effect, and played no part in the tournament after that. Schürrle does have the talent to regain the form that has seen him score twenty goals in the Nationaltrikot, but it is fair to say that he has looked far from his best since delivering that killer cross in the final in Rio.

Lukas Podolski

Germany’s cheerleader and photo-op king. Nobody expected Podolski to get a game at Euro 2016, but he did get a run out when the game was already done and dusted against Slovakia. He didn’t actually do too badly, and it might have been worth a shot throwing him into the fray as a striker when things were getting desperate in the semi-final. What was arguably Podolski’s best moment came off the pitch at one of the many press conferences however, when he delivered a suitably pithy one-liner in response to the exaggerated media reaction to Jogi Löw’s “ballgate” incident.

“Poldi” remains a favourite of the coach, and while he is still fit and able will always be on the fringes of team selection. It is hard to see how he will get into the mix for the next World Cup, however.

Leroy Sané

Seen by many as a player of the future, the young Schalke 04 winger got his first taste of tournament action when the coach was at his most desperate. Sané almost scored with his first touch, but will be happy at getting the experience of being part of a tournament squad. We will almost certainly be seeing more of him at the World Cup in 2018.

Mario Gómez

Back in the squad after a couple of injury-ravaged years, Mario Gómez was on the pitch for only eighteen minutes of the first two group phases matches. Then, the coach finally decided to give up on the false nine experiment and bring in a proper striker instead. The change immediately had an effect, with Gómez scoring the winner against Northern Ireland before bagging another in the quarter-final against Slovakia.

Gómez showed that was more than just a finisher with his excellent part in the build-up to Mesut Özil’s goal against Italy, but was forced to leave the field not long afterwards. The absence of the big striker clearly blunted the German attack in the semi-final, and it showed that the days of the big front man aren’t quite dead.

“Super Mario” has probably played his last major international tournament, but as Germany continue their search for a new striker he will surely remain as a goalscoring option.

The Statistics

The following table provides the details of the lineups of for all six matches, including minutes played and their match ratings. The red boxes represent substitutions out, the blue boxes substitutions in, while the green ones indicate those players who were on the pitch for the maximum 570 minutes (5 x 90 minutes, 1 x 120 minutes).

Jérôme BoatengBoateng901901.5762.571112026135081.83
Joshua KimmichKimmich90290212029033902.25
Manuel NeuerNeuer90190390390212019045702.33
Toni KroosKroos901902.59039031203902.55702.50
Mesut ÖzilÖzil904.5904901.590212019025702.50
Mats HummelsHummels90390390212023902.50
Mario GómezGómez184902.59027222702.62
Jonas HectorHector90490490390212029035703.00
Emre CanCan673673.00
Lukas PodolskiPodolski193193.00
Benedikt HöwedesHöwedes90490414n/a19312029034233.20
Julian DraxlerDraxler7837257114839043593.20
Sami KhediraKhedira90390369476315n/a3403.25
Thomas MüllerMüller903.590490390312049055703.75
Shkodran MustafiMustafi9032951194.00
André SchürrleSchürrle12n/a344354814.00
Bastian SchweinsteigerSchweinsteiger2n/a21414n/a1054794.52214.16
Mario GötzeGötze9056655542352344.75
Leroy SanéSané11n/a11n/a

Players who didn’t make an appearance: Bernd Leno, Marc-André ter Stegen, Jonathan Tah and Julian Weigl.

* Match ratings are only provided where a player has been on the pitch for fifteen or more minutes excluding additional/injury time.

Germany’s Euro 2016 School Report

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