Germany – Key Euros Stats:

Euro appearances: 13
Euro Titles: 3
Best finish: Winners (1972, 1980, 1996)
Euros Record: W27 D13 L13
Goals scored: 78
Biggest win: 3-0 (most recent vs Slovakia in Euro 2016)
Player to watch: Florian Wirtz
World ranking: 16
Euro 2024 Group Matches: Scotland (June 14), Hungary (June 19), Switzerland (June 23)

How to follow our Euro 2024 coverage: UEFA Euro 2024 on Al Jazeera

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A general disillusionment with the national team, a squad trapped in transition and the appointment of a charismatic new coach in advance of a home tournament: take a whiff and you’ll find it smells like 2006 in Germany.

Manager Jurgen Klinsmann was at the helm for Die Mannschaft – which directly translates as “The Team” – at the World Cup 18 years ago. Julian Nagelsmann is in the hot seat for the Euro 2024.

In 2006, a youthful German side captured the nation’s imagination, staging an unlikely run to the semifinals. In 2024, a similar campaign is hoped for – but not necessarily expected.

It’s been a harrowing few years for the three-time winner of the European football championship, who, since Euro 2016, have not won a knockout game at a major tournament.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was their second successive group stage exit, and following their 4-1 loss to Japan last September, Hansi Flick became the first Germany boss to be fired from the role.

Friendly fire

Germany has won just five of their 13 games since Qatar. But it is the last two – which came in the March international window – that have seen optimism spread throughout the country before Euro 2024.

The first rule of international football is: Do not put any weight on friendlies. Given how bereft of joy German fans have been in recent years, it is understandable why they were swept up by the wins over France (2-0) and Netherlands (2-1).

But it was not completely without reason.

After some tinkering in his first four games, Nagelsmann settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation for the two friendlies and just like that, it all clicked.

The trio of Jamal Musiala, Ilkay Gundogan and Florian Wirtz with Kai Havertz in midfield infused the attack with dynamism. Jonathan Tah and Antonio Rudiger brought solidity to the backline.

Wing-back was where Nagelsmann had experimented the most – Havertz, Niklas Sule, Robin Gosens, Benjamin Henrichs and Tah were all fielded in the position before March.

But in Joshua Kimmich and Stuttgart’s Maximilian Mittelstaedt, Nagelsmann appears to have found his preferred duo to flank the centrebacks. Mittelstaedt made his debut in the win against France and three days later, scored his first international goal against Netherlands.

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann, right, will need to get the most out of his players if his team is going to compete with the favourites at Euro 2024 [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

Kroos to the rescue

Central to the whole system, of course, is superstar Toni Kroos.

The Real Madrid midfielder has been coaxed out of retirement and seven seconds into his return, set up Wirtz’s opener against France with one of his archetypal clipped passes.

In addition to the balance Kroos brings to the side, his presence frees up Gundogan to operate off the top of the attack. It is a role similar to the one he thrived in at Manchester City, where he was shielded by Rodri.

Nagelsmann had signed a short-term contract with Germany until the end of the Euros, but in April agreed to stay on until after the 2026 World Cup. He cited the friendlies in March – and the reaction they evoked across the country – as reasons for his extension.

“This is a decision of the heart. It is a great honour to be able to train the national team and work with the best players in the country,” Nagelsmann said.

“With successful, passionate performances we have the chance to inspire an entire country.

The two wins against France and the Netherlands in March really touched me. We want to play a successful home European Championship together and I’m really looking forward to it together with my coaching team Challenge of a World Cup.”

The 36-year-old manager has been bold in his selections for the Euros.

Mats Hummels, who starred in Borussia Dortmund’s run to the Champions League final, has been overlooked as has Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka.

Beyond talent, the Germany squad comprises players in a rich vein of form.

Havertz and Wirtz are coming off standout campaigns for Arsenal and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

Kroos, meanwhile, has rolled back the years for Madrid with his performances this year, and Rudiger has established himself this season as one of the best defenders in the world.

It will take a combined effort from Germany’s Thomas Muller, Maximilian Mittelstadt, Toni Kroos, Joshua Kimmich and Robin Koch if they are to win a record fourth European football championship [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

The fact that Germany is the Euro 2024 host is key, not least because qualification might have proved an issue had that not been the case.

Home support – and the manner in which they harness it – will be crucial to Germany’s chances.

Drawn in a tricky group with Switzerland, Scotland and Hungary, a strong start to Euro 2024 will be essential to build momentum.

Much like the 2006 World Cup staged in Germany, the Euros could be the dawn of a new era for the national team on home soil – or, if they crash and burn in front of their legions of fans, there is likely to be a major squad rebuild in the run-up to the 2026 World Cup campaign.

Germany Euro 2024 squad:

Captain: Ilkay Gundogan

Goalkeepers: Oliver Baumann (TSG Hoffenheim), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

Defenders: Waldemar Anton (VfB Stuttgart), Benjamin Henrichs (RB Leipzig), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Robin Koch (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maximilian Mittelstadt (VfB Stuttgart), David Raum (RB Leipzig), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Robert Andrich (Bayer Leverkusen), Chris Fuhrich (VfB Stuttgart), Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ilkay Gundogan (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Aleksandar Pavlovic (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Forwards: Maximilian Beier (TSG Hoffenheim), Niclas Fullkrug (Borussia Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Arsenal), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Deniz Undav (VfB Stuttgart)

You can follow the action on Al Jazeera’s dedicated Euro 2024 tournament page with all the match buildup and live text commentary, and keep up to date with group standings and real-time match results & schedules.