Three things to look out for during Germany’s EURO 2024 campaign

Germany kickstart their EURO 2024 campaign against Scotland at the Allianz Arena later tonight. With anticipation building ahead of the tournament’s opening clash, EURO 2024 presents itself as one of the most unpredictable European Championships to date.

Despite Julian Nagelsmann transforming the attitude towards the national team since his arrival, there have been a number of concerns heading into the tournament. While Germany will be looking to lift silverware on home soil, what is there to look out for over the course of the tournament from a German perspective?

The persistence of utilising İlkay Gündoğan

When Nagelsmann was appointed the head coach of the German national team, succeeding Hansi Flick in the process, there was an initial key decision the former Bayern Munich head coach had to make: whether to maintain İlkay Gündoğan tenure as captain.

While taking the captaincy away from the Barcelona midfielder could have caused initial tension between Nagelsmann and a senior member of the squad, a much larger problem may have been created. Ensuring that Gündoğan remained as captain of the national team has led to Nagelsmann almost being forced to utitlise the 33-year-old, when it has become clear that he may not be Germany’s most influential midfielder.

The return of Toni Kroos has added undeniable quality to Germany’s midfield, while his partnership alongside Robert Andrich has seen Nagelsmann’s side become far more stabilised and balanced. This has pushed Gündoğan into a number-ten role, where he has failed to impress under Nagelsmann’s stewardship.

With Leroy Sané yet to return to full fitness, it is expected that Gündoğan will start for Germany against Scotland. However, when Sané recovers, he could instantly replace the Barcelona midfielder, subsequently adding more speed to Germany’s attack.

As well as this, Brighton’s Pascal Groß could also feature in that role, having been a revelation for Germany since making his debut. Either way, in previous internationals, Gündoğan has slowed down Germany’s attack while being sluggish in possession. Perhaps his removal from the starting XI over the course of the tournament could transform Germany’s fortunes.

Manuel Neuer or Marc-André ter Stegen

Prior to EURO 2024, the big question hanging over this squad was: who would start in goal for Nagelsmann’s side? Initially, Neuer was chosen to be the squad’s number one, but mistakes could cost the Bayern shot-stopper his place in the side.

Against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Neuer’s mistake led to Los Blancos’ equaliser, allowing the eventual champions to perform a late comeback. While Neuer’s mistake was costly, due to his form over the course of the season, he was forgiven.

However, against Greece, another costly mistake presented Giorgos Masouras with a simple tap-in. Quite simply, this cannot carry on, especially when a single ninety minutes ultimately decides Germany’s fate.

Therefore, should Neuer show another lapse in concentration, then the ever-reliable Marc-André ter Stegen could quite quickly be called upon. As well as this, ter Stagen could start in Germany’s second fixture against Hungary to give Nagelsmann the opportunity to make a final decision.

Julian Nagelsmann’s tactical changes

While Nagelsmann has yet to manage a national team at a major tournament, the 36-year-old is not lacking in experience. By helping guide RB Leipzig to their first and, to date, only Champions League semi-final, Nagelsmann has proven that he knows how to navigate his way through knockout football.

While Germany may start games on the back foot, after 15-20 minutes, it can be expected that they will begin to find their feet and dominate proceedings. The former Bayern head coach is one of the best in the game when it comes to adjusting his side and making small tactical tweaks during games, something that is vitally important for this kind of competition.

In the eight games in which Nagelsmann has managed the national team, three times they have come from behind to run out victorious. While a slow start to games could ultimately cost Germany, once they get on top, they are a difficult side to live with, and they can never be written off.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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