- Marco Reus misses Euro 2016 through injury.
- Sane, Kimmich and Weigl in final 23.
- Bayern's Müller to play starring role.
The injury-enforced omission of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus from Germany's final 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016 is a huge disappointment for all concerned, but Joachim Löw still has a team more than capable of going the distance in France.
We take a look at what role the 13 Bundesliga-based players at Jögi’s disposal could play in the finals.
Case for the defence
Exactly who lines up in Germany’s opening Group C fixture against Ukraine hinges on two factors: fitness and formation. Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels is already a doubt for the group stage, while Löw has recently been flitting between an experimental 3-5-2 set-up and the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 employed in Die Mannschaft's FIFA World Cup triumph two years ago.
In an ideal world, however, it will be Hummels sitting alongside imperious FC Bayern München centre-half Jerome Boateng at the heart of defence. FC Schalke 04's Benedikt Höwedes is a viable alternative, but the left-back position he occupied at the World Cup has since been taken up by 1. FC Köln's Jonas Hector. Höwedes is, nevertheless, known for his flexibility and could always do a job on the opposing flank as he - like Boateng - has performed in the past. Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, meanwhile, will provide cover between the goalposts for Bayern ace Manuel Neuer.
Wealth of midfield talent
In midfield, Löw is spoilt for choice. Newcomers Julian Weigl (Dortmund) and Joshua Kimmich (Bayern) have been schooled in the art of ball retention and will act as capable deputies for old defensive midfield hands such Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and although VfL Wolfsburg duo Andre Schürrle and Julian Draxler offer pace and skill in the wider areas, they too might have to settle for a place on the bench.
Thomas Müller, on the other hand, is Germany's Mr. Irreplaceable. The Bayern forward is at his stealthy best when used on the right-hand side of an attacking midfield three in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but can also play more centrally or even as a false nine. Bayern teammate Mario Götze has made a reasonable stab of the free-roaming role before, yet with Reus out and ex-Schalke and SV Werder Bremen playmaker Mesut Özil favoured in the hole, he looks like the most likely candidate to take up position on the left-hand side behind the lone striker.
Schalke's Leroy Sane is another fascinating recourse in the forward positions. The 20-year-old is a tricky customer with a magic wand of a left foot, and is a great option to have from the bench when opposition defences begin to tire. To expect anything more, however, would be somewhat premature - especially at his first major tournament and with Müller for competition on the right-hand side of attack.
The tactical ifs, buts and maybes will rage on until Germany take to the field in Lille on 12 June, but if one thing is certain it is that Löw need not have any concerns once the tournament gets under way. As history has shown, the recent warm-up defeat to Slovakia will likely be forgotten as a minor blip on the road to another solid showing on the big stage. Germany have a habit of turning up when it matters and there is no reason to expect anything different from the uber-versatile class of 2016.