Germany have announced their squad for EURO 2020, and as our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard explains, they have turned to some notable figures from their past.
"In forcibly retiring Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, Joachim Low lost some big characters from the dressing room, and Germany have suffered without their experience and quality."
Löw has reversed his mistake just in time
The decision of Germany boss Joachim Löw to forcibly retire Thomas Müller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from international duty was always flawed, and it felt like they were unfairly made into the poster-boys for the 2018 World Cup debacle in Russia. Publicly, Löw talked about bringing through youngsters and looking to the future, but there are many insiders who'll tell you that it was more about removing powerful voices from the dressing room.
After two of the best seasons of his career for Bayern (19 goals and 39 assists in the Bundesliga alone), Müller is back in the fold, and Hummels has also been recalled after a fine individual campaign for DFB Cup winners Borussia Dortmund. Boateng continues to be omitted, and can count himself unlucky.
Euro push was one step too far for Magic Marco
Borussia Dortmund skipper Marco Reus has been in exceptional form for his hometown club, and he was outstanding in the 4-1 DFB Cup final win over RB Leipzig. That surge led to speculation that he might return to the Germany squad, but he has perhaps sensibly decided to rest. He is pain-free for the first time in a long time, and is understandably reticent to overload himself. This will have been an incredibly hard decision, given the bad luck with injuries that has cost him his place at several major tournaments.
Reus' decision perhaps opened the door for Kevin Volland, who is back after a superb campaign in France with Monaco. There is plenty of quality in the forward positions: Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry provide pace and trickery, I'll defend the idea that Timo Werner's had a great season with Chelsea until I'm blue in the face, and Kai Havertz showed in the UCL semi-final against Real Madrid that he can hold the ball up and compete with defenders like Sergio Ramos.
Bayern duo Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have caught the eye again at club level as the champions' midfield axis, Ilkay Gundogan has probably just had his best ever campaign with Manchester City, the metronomic Toni Kroos is reliable, and Emre Can provides the muscle.
The wild card is 18-year-old Jamal Musiala, who pledged his future to Germany rather than England earlier this year. A fearless player who operates like someone with a much lower centre of gravity, Musiala started the campaign by becoming Bayern's youngest ever goalscorer, and has gone on to be a genuine first-teamer for the Bavarian giants. I wouldn't expect the former Chelsea youngster to start many games, but he can be an effective impact player.
Defence the concern, and what happens if Neuer is injured?
Manuel Neuer is Germany's undisputed number one, but an injury to Marc-Andre ter Stegen has deprived Die Mannschaft of elite back-up. Neither Bernd Leno nor Kevin Trapp are reliable options, and I think an opportunity to call up Arminia Bielefeld's Stefan Ortega has been missed.
Defence is Germany's weakest area, which is why I think backing Both teams To Score in their opener against France looks like the right bet at 1.794/5. They are shaky at set plays, and in general they conceded far too many preventable goals. The 6-0 defeat to Spain and the recent reverse against North Macedonia were shocks, but the manner in which many of those goals were conceded wasn't surprising to regular observers of this side.
The inclusion of Atalanta's Robin Gosens and Freiburg speedster Christian Günter suggests Löw at least wants the option to play a left-sided wing-back, but there isn't really a natural fit on the right side. Emre Can always looks awkward there, and Lukas Klostermann has spent most of his recent time with RB Leipzig at centre-back. The perfect option on the right is Kimmich, but he prefers to play in midfield.
Löw will hope that Hummels can organise the defence, and that Müller can provide spark and leadership in attack. It turns out he did need those big voices after all.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno, Kevin Trapp
Defenders: Matthias Ginter, Robin Gosens, Christian Günter, Marcel Halstenberg, Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle
Midfielders: Emre Can, Toni Kroos, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gündogan, Jonas Hofmann, Joshua Kimmich, Florian Neuhaus
Forwards: Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Kai Havertz, Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane, Kevin Volland, Timo Werner