a�?Germany have never had so many top talents before. It’s absolute madness that we have so many great young players. The coach [Joachim LA�w] has some incredibly difficult decisions to makea�? a�� JA?rgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund coach.

Even before entering the twilight rounds of qualifiers, Germany qualified for next yeara��s European Championships, in the process became the first team to do so in this campaign. Apparently the remainder of the matches in Group A held more importance to Turkey and Belgium than it did to the group leaders Germany, in a race to finish second. And as fate would have it, both the teams had to face Germany in one of their last two games. Germany have emerged winners in both the games, completing their first ever 100% record in the qualifying rounds.

The black n white blitzkrieg brigade in its wake

The game against Turkey in Turkeya��s own backyard was Germanya��s toughest test in the group. The game was played in an expected hostile environment, heavily overcasted by the absence of two of Turkeya��s most pre-eminent prodigal sons, born in Germany, torn by the countries they chose to play for a�� Nuri Azahin and Mesut A�zil. Despite all the boos and jeers, it was Germany which came up trumps with their sleek, silky football a�� three strikes from three Bayern Munich men( Gomez, MA?ller and Schweinsteiger) put the game well beyond Turkeya��s reach and eventually put a question mark on Turkeya��s chances of qualifying for the play-offs.

Following that defeat, Turkey needed to bank heavily on Germany to beat nearest rivals Belgium, to at least qualify for the play-offs. Germany did not disappoint Turkey as they defused a strong Belgian attack to make way for Turkey, who narrowly edged Azerbaijan to finish ahead of Belgium. All the goals Germany scored in the game against Belgium deserved numerous rewinds, were elementally sublimeA� as strikes from A�zil, SchA?rrle and Gomez put the game to rest within the first 48 minutes of the game.

Following their ten-on-ten performance, German fans would have every reason to be optimistic about their teama��s chances of lifting their first international trophy since 1996. Their record in qualifiers has always been pretty solid, punctuated by only two losses in all these years. But a Perfect 10, along with the number of goals scored, will definitely boost the confidence of the Germans ahead of the actual competition.

One of the reasons for Germanya��s consistent dominance is their squad depth. Even a decade ago German fans would have cringed of the very thought of missing a Ballack or a Klose before a very important game. Thanks to DFBa��s investment in youth academies, Germany are presently reaping a reward envious to most of the football-playing nation. Today they go onto register thumping victories even in the absence of a Neuer, a Schweinsteiger, a Klose, or a Podolski. The competition in the the squad has increased so much that the latest German talent, Mario GA�tze,A� has never let the fans feel that the Mannschaft were without the services of their playmaking talisman, Mesut, in the game against Turkey in Turkey or in the international friendly against Brazil. In the words of coach Joachim LA�w, a�?In Germany we must finally say ‘goodbye’ to the idea of 11 regular players. One can see very clearly in European football that it takes more than 11 players to compensate for injuries. As a coach, of course I favour competition. Regular places are history.a�?

A steady supply of talents coupled with a competition to hold onea��s place in the national team has also managed to bring the best out of the footballers, benefitting the team in the end. Almost all the footballers, who got a chance to show their talent, have somehow made a mark for themselves in the last twelve months or so. Such has been the standard of the backups that LA�w had the luxury to deliberately sit out some of the first teamers in order to try out the future stars. Let us have a look at the options that Joachim LA�w has at his disposal to abide by what he meant by a�?Regular places are historya�?.

Goalkeeper

Manuel Neuer has done enough to remain LA�wa��s first choice shotstopper. But he knows that there is competition, from various resources. Neuer knows as long he has no injury concerns, his place is secured but we all know what happened to Adler. There is Tim Wiese, youngsters like Zieler, Leno, ter Stegen, and of course the penumbra of RenA� Adler. Bottom line is Germany need not worry about their goal keeping department, the backups are talented enough to emulate Neuer.

Germany in the safe hands of Manuel Neuer

Defense

Right Back

Too many talented contenders for one place. Both HA�wedes and Boateng are in contention to win a place in LA�wa��s starting lineup. Russia-born right-back Andreas Beck has also impressed one and all with his consistent upward curve in the Bundesliga and might find himself in the flight to Poland-Ukraine. However, nobody is assured of a place for this role as yet, a good sign for the three protagonists to keep doing the good work and leave it to LA�wa��s judgement.

Left Back

The skipper, Philipp Lahm can, for now, breathe a sigh of relief that Marcel Schmelzer, his backup plan, is out of form for some time now. Lahm hasna��t been in his defensive best in the last few international appearances, having a torrid time against Belgium and conceding a needless penalty against Brazil. Good thing for Germany is that Boateng can also play as a left-back. So in case Lahm is unavailable or out of form, Boateng can be drafted in to replace him.

Centre Half

Considering the performance report of the last fifteen months or so, Mats Hummels will surely have a starting role. Now there is a competition between Badstuber, the most in-form defender of Bundesliga at present, and the ever-reliable Mertesacker. It will all boil down to the fact that who is having a better season with their respective club. In case of an injury, Boateng can be slotted in as a centre half as well a�� a role to which he has taken to with ease at Bayern.

Midfield

Defensive Midfield

Last year LA�w played with a two-man defensive screen in his 4-2-3-1 midfield. This year LA�w has changed the tactics to a 4-1-4-1 model, wherein only one person will be entrusted with the defensive duty. Again, Schweinsteiger is expected to fit in this role. But does he have able backup? Hell yeah, he has! There is Sami Khedira, a pillar of strength and positioning sense, who could fill in the boots of Bastian, if need be. There is Toni Kroos who has played in that role in the absence of Khedira and nowadays occasionally gets to play the role of a slick conduit between defense and attack for Bayern as well. If these options are not enough, then there are the Bender twins. Both Lars and Sven have been in good touch over the few years and either of them can make it to the team as backups, without dropping the overall quality one bit.

Playmaker

Interesting position. To put it simply, Mesut A�zil owns this role. But what if he is unavailable? Germany have loads of players who can fit in the role of a playmaker, a deep-lying playmaker or an attacking playmaker. Each of Schweinsteiger, Kroos, GA�tze, Reus and GA?ndoAYan(earned his first cap in the last qualifying game)A� can play in this role and can be effective in their own ways, without much compromise in the standards. Germany have enough firepower in this department to worry over the unavailability any of their superstars.

Wide Midfield a�� Right

Thomas MA?ller has played in all the qualifying games in this position and is likely to hold his place in the line-up. During the qualifying games, he scored three goals and raked in five assists and at times proved to be invaluable for the team. But GA�tze, who plays a similar role for Dortmund, is technically sound enough to slip into the shoes of MA?ller, in case there is a need.

Wide Midfield a�� Left

Podolski has played an important role down the left flank during the qualifying rounds. He did so in the World Cup in South Africa too. However, emerging talent AndrA� SchA?rrle has played in less number of games over the same period of time and has scored equal number of goals. SchA?rrle adds much more fluidity into the game than the make-shift wide player. So, Germany have a suitable replacement for Podolski as well.

Time has come for Podolski to deliver consistently

Centre Forward

Miroslav Klose, who is only six strikes away from Gerd MA?llera��s tally of international goals, finally has some serious competition a��A� much to the assurance of the fans. Klose has scored nine goals from six matches in the qualifying rounds. He is relishing a clinical start to his Serie A career with Lazio where he has scored five goals in seven competitive games and has also provided five assists. But Klosea��s services were not missed at all in the last two games as Super Mario stepped into his shoes perfectly. Gomez scored in both the games, took both his goals beautifully, and showed urgency in holding the ball, chasing it and linking team-mates. All in all the towering Bayern centre forward has scored six goals in six qualifying games and his international form has finally released some pressure off LA�w, so much so that the gaffer mentioned about the much awaited positive effect of Gomez at the international stage, a�?Between Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez there is now a competition among equals.a�?

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