Many watched in wonder as Germany destroyed England and then Argentina at the 2010 World Cup.
Back then it was only Spain – who also defeated Germany in the final of Euro 2008 – who could stop Die Mannschaft.
Spain were, of course, the best team in the world and were recognised as such by winning the tournament.
Whilst they’re still favourites for Euro 2012, they should be worried. Because Germany are even better than they were two years ago.
This view was expanded on by Michael Cox, editor of Zonal Marking, who said: “Three months ago I thought they were favourites. Now I think Spain are ‘faves’ again, although I think they’re less complete than many think.
“Holland are either very average or ruthlessly efficient – I couldn’t decide at the WC, I can’t decide now. Germany are second favourites, I think.”
Out have gone Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich – the weak spots of the 2010 side – and in are Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, two of the most talented young centre backs in world football.
Manuel Neuer, very good back then, is now probably in the top three goalkeepers around, while at the other end Mario Gomez has been an absolute goal machine.
It is in midfield, however, that Germany has an embarrassment of riches.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira ran the show from midfield in 2010, despite being just 25 and 22 respectively.
Schweinsteiger has had injury problems of late, but he should be fit and firing come the Euros, and if that is the case then he will again be the heartbeat of the side. Khedira, meanwhile, hasn’t enjoyed the success of his compatriot Mesut Ozil since they both made the move to Real Madrid, but his experience in South Africa should stand him in good stead.
Khedira’s spot is likely to come under threat from Toni Kroos, who has been a revelation for Bayern in the absence of Schweinsteiger and is developing into a top class playmaker. Euro 2012 could well do for Kroos what the World Cup did for Khedira. Then there are the Bender twins, Lars and Sven, who have been in great form for their clubs.
The midfielders playing ahead of those, if – as expected – Germany keep with their 4-2-3-1 fomation are an equally mouthwatering, jaw-dropping array of talent.
There’s the aforementioned Ozil, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s season as they have demolished all in their path in La Liga. Thomas Muller – top scorer at the World Cup two years ago isn’t in the best form, but that’s unlikely to make much difference and he’s still a big part of the side.
Lukas Podolski is, at 26, enjoying his best ever season in the Bundesliga and likely to move to Arsenal in the summer. Given his age, his record of 43 goals in 95 internationals is staggering.
Then there’s Mario Gotze, one of, if not the hottest property in world football – and he isn’t even guaranteed a start.
An unbelievable arsenal in both attack and defence, and I haven’t even mentioned the captain Philipp Lahm or Miroslav Klose – the latter is just five goals away from equaling Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals for Germany.
Then there’s Marco Reus, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Andre Schurrle and more. The hardest part of Löw’s job will be fitting all these players into a 23-man squad and then finding his best XI.
And if he gets that right, then he and the rest of the Germany are likely to be celebrating a fourth European Championship success.