Euro 2016 Team Guide: Germany ready to deliver on the major stage again

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Die Mannschaft's form since winning the World Cup has been far from formidable, but in the big tournaments they invariably deliver and are therefore among the favourites

Coach: Joachim Low

Key player: Thomas Muller

Qualifying form: W7, L2, D1

Top scorers in qualifying: Thomas Muller (9), Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Max Kruse (all 3)

Two of the last three European winners of the World Cup have gone on to victory at the Euros, but reigning world champions Germany's path to securing a famous double has been far from smooth.

France and Spain followed up their respective world crowns from 1998 and 2010 with continental glory, while Italy suffered defeat in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 having gone into the tournament as world champions.

Nothing will, of course, be decided until the teams arrive in France, but there is no doubt Germany coach Joachim Low would have wanted the two years between the famous World Cup success in Brazil and the upcoming tournament to have gone significantly better.

Despite an easier qualification process with 24 teams progressing to an expanded Euro 2016, Germany did not make sure of their place until they edged a 2-1 home victory over Georgia - courtesy of a fine goalkeeping performance from Manuel Neuer - in their last qualifier.

Germany's campaign also saw them lose to Poland, pick up just one point from a possible six in two meetings with Republic of Ireland, while they only just claimed narrow 2-1 and 3-2 victories over Scotland before stumbling over the line.

Low's men have failed to impress in their friendlies following the World Cup, too. They have suffered defeats to Argentina, United States and France as well as surrendering a two-goal lead in a shock 3-2 loss to England in March before going down to a dreadful 3-1 home defeat against Slovakia.

However, while their preparation has not been ideal, Germany still go into the competition as the joint favourites, along with hosts France, which says a lot about their quality and big tournament credentials.

They have reached a record six European Championship finals, winning three, and they invariably deliver when it comes to the showpiece events.

Neuer provides Germany with a formidable last line of defence, while Jerome Boateng has returned from three months out injured and is set to resume his World Cup-winning central defensive partnership with new club-mate Mats Hummels - one that few nations can rival.

Much will be expected of Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, who should hold things together in midfield, particularly considering captain Bastian Schweinsteiger's fitness woes this year and Borussia Dortmund pair Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus being ruled out with injury.

Mario Gotze was the hero of the World Cup final, but his form for club and country since has been well below that level, meaning Mesut Ozil - coming off a good season with Arsenal - will have to deliver.

The undoubted key, though, will be Thomas Muller. Only Robert Lewandowski of Poland scored more than his nine goals in qualifying and the 26-year-old has enjoyed the most prolific season of a glittering career at Bayern Munich in 2015-16.

Germany will expect to finish first in a Group C containing Northern Ireland, Poland and Ukraine and, despite their problems, it would be brave to suggest they will not at the very least be one of the final four teams fighting it out for glory.