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The German giants sent more players to the tournament than any other club - and with disastrous results. Goal.com investigates how their stars are feeling as club training resumes

ANALYSIS
By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor

History will remember the 2011-12 season as a great disappointment for German football. In August last year, Bayern Munich were far from the hot favourites to win the Champions League, but after reaching the final, they were largely expected to defeat a decidedly weaker Chelsea side. But after a lacklustre performance, they lost on penalties in their ow backyard.

A month later, the German national team appeared favourites to win Euro 2012, having earned a perfect record in the Group of Death and hammered Greece in the quarter-final. They lost 2-1 to Italy in the semi-final.

The season was extremely bitter for Bayern, who finished runners-up in three tournaments, and later had eight Germany internationals suffer defeat in the penultimate game of the European Championship.

"We've been punched in the face four times," Mario Gomez said, succinctly summarising the season for Bayern's Germany contingent.

Even for Bayern's foreign stars - Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk - Euro 2012 was a great disappointment. The Dutch were sent packing after three losses in the group phase, and Robben followed up a dreadful end to the club season with a miserable tournament. According to Goal.com Dutch Football Editor Stefan Coerts, "During Euro 2012, he never looked like the player who was once seen as one of the most dangerous attackers in the world, and to make matters worse, Netherlands crashed out in the group stages, with morale within the squad at an all time low."

BAYERN MUNICH'S EURO 2012 STARS

HOLGER BADSTUBER
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
450
JEROME BOATENG
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
340

MARIO GOMEZ
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
421
PHILIPP LAHM
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
450

TONI KROOS
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
 
111
 
MARIO MANDZUKIC
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
270
 
THOMAS MULLER
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
305
MANUEL NEUER
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
450
FRANCK RIBERY
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
282
ARJEN ROBBEN
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
450
BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
262
ANATOLIY TYMOSHCHUK
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
 270

With France, Ribery had more individual and team success than Robben, it should be noted, but what started well ended in a second-consecutive tournament humiliation for Les Bleus. However, among Bayern's big stars, the Frenchman may be the least affected by the tournament. French Football Editor Robin Bairner explains: "Ribery may have been criticised during Euro 2012 for his performances with France, but it would have been unfair to say there was a lack of effort on his part. His decision making was poor, but he looked hungry, and that can only be a good thing when he returns to his club, with whom he has typically fared better, particularly as he will be refreshed after a long and taxing campaign."

Ukraine were never expected to go far at Euro 2012, and perhaps Tymoshchuk will be the least affected player as he returns to training with Bayern. Euro 2012 was a monumental occasion for the country in any case, and some positive results would have been the icing on the cake. Ukraine will be disappointed not to have taken any points off France or England after winning their opener against Sweden, but Tymoshchuk's pride certainly didn't take a hit like many of his club team-mates.

Among Bayern players, the stakes were highest for Germany heading into Euro 2012. A win in the final could have lifted the team's spirit following their failure to win any silverware for a second consecutive season. Anything short of the trophy was regarded as a failure. It's cruel, but Bayern's Germany contingent left Warsaw disappointed, frustrated, and angry.

Captain Philipp Lahm was directly responsible for Mario Balotelli's second goal in the semi-final loss to Italy, a strike that all but ended any hope Germany had of a comeback. The full-back's Euro campaign had its ups and downs, but in the key match, he committed a fatal error and couldn't rally his team.

Bastian Schweinsteiger had an even more dismal tournament. It must be noted that he played through the pain barrier and was never fully fit to give 100 per cent. Even so, he failed to find a way to contribute and lift his team - his performance against Greece was particularly atrocious. After yet another tournament loss, Schweinsteiger cemented his reputation: he may have grown up since the days when he was known as "Schweini," but he will never be a Lothar Matthaus.

While Schweinsteiger struggled, Toni Kroos could only look on and wonder why he was not trusted to play more. Given a combined 18 minutes of playing time during Germany's first four matches, the midfielder looked strangely dissociated from the rest of die Mannschaft. After each game he would pass by reporters with an apathetic expression, boarding the team bus long before the other players. Finally given his chance to start in the Italy loss, Kroos' display reflected the attitude he had carried earlier in the championship: he seemed passionless and was one of Germany's worst players.

Thomas Muller can similarly be frustrated following the tournament - he struggled to make any impact in the group stage and was a substitute against Greece and Italy. Having found the net in the Champions League final and finished top scorer at the 2010 World Cup, it can easily be argued that he deserved more faith from Joachim Low. But, just as he was often benched at Bayern last season, Muller was forced to only dream about the difference he might have been able to make had he been given more time against Italy.

Like Muller, Mario Gomez lost his starting role after the group stage. He scored three goals in Germany's first two games, but after struggling against Denmark, was left out for the Greece match and never recovered. His patchy form and ever-fragile ego have often been criticised, and these problems were put on full display at Euro 2012. He may have scored 47 goals for club and country last season, but the striker remains a wild card; in any given game he can either be brilliant or awful. And he knows it.

Holger Badstuber, likewise, is a player who has great talent but certain glaring weaknesses were exposed at Euro 2012. He had trouble in one-on-one situations against Portugal, and was found lacking any presence in the air as Nicklas Bendtner - and later Balotelli - wreaked havoc from headers. Badstuber has his strengths, but if ever forced into any contest of speed or strength, he tends to struggle. He played every minute of every game, but after seeing his flaws put on full display as Germany conceded six goals in five games, Badstuber will return to training with his confidence having taken a hit.

On the right of defence, Jerome Boateng had his ups and downs. He played well enough against Portugal and Netherlands, but was booked in each match and suspended for the Denmark fixture. His return in the quarter-final was inglorious as he was directly responsible for both goals conceded to a Greece side that only put a handful of shots on target all tournament yet still scored twice against the Germans. In the Italy semi-final, he can take a minority share of the blame for Balotelli's opener, given that he was out of position at the time. Although Boateng was not deployed in his favoured role for Germany, the team's exit cannot bode well for the Berlin native.

Having sent more players to Euro 2012 than any other club team, Bayern had the most to gain and the most to lose. Germany's shock defeat, coupled with the humiliation of Netherlands and France, have taken a toll on key players who are now both physically and mentally exhausted.

New signing Mario Mandzukic will be the exception, having had an excellent Euros and scored three goals in as many matches for Croatia. The tournament ended in disappointment for his nation, but the striker was prolific in front of goal, and will be relatively fresh, mentally and physically. After a strong season for Wolfsburg, Mandzukic's performances in Poland and Ukraine will elevate his confidence to new highs heading into the new season.

The next few weeks are critical, and Bayern have already taken the right steps to minimise the Euro 2012 damage. In signing the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante, and Claudio Pizarro, the Bundesliga record champions have brought in players who will be fresh and unaffected by the Euros.

On the whole, there is little positive for Bayern's players to reflect upon. Their reaction has been to only look forward, and by bringing in Matthias Sammer as sporting director, die Roten have begun a new chapter in their history. After two painful years, things can only get better.

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