UEFA Euro 2020 will now be played in the summer of 2021 due to the effects of coronavirus. The global pandemic has presented an opportunity for some, though, with Marco Reus and Niklas Süle among those shaking off injuries. How will Germany line up when it kicks off?
Germany qualified for the tournament - which will be hosted, in part, at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena - in fine style. Joachim Löw's side finished top of Group C ahead of the Netherlands after winning seven of their eight games to the tune of 30 goals scored set against just seven conceded.
Although Löw had initially flirted with a 3-4-3 system in the aftermath of Die Mannschaft's premature exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, his side closed out their European qualifying campaign using a rather more familiar-looking 4-2-3-1. Their lone loss was against the Dutch last September, when the coach last used a three-man defence. Reverting to a back four, Germany's last four games were won with an aggregate score of 15-1.
It's safe to say that Germany's best possible XI slots neatly into such a system. Over the course of qualifying, recent Bayern acquisition Leroy Sane - then at Manchester City - and Borussia Dortmund captain Reus shared playing time mostly due to injuries. Over the course of qualifying, either would complete a potent front three with Timo Werner and Sane's new club-mate Serge Gnabry, who top-scored with eight goals. All four fit and firing is sure to make any opposition manager quiver at the prospect of trying to shut them down.
Germany can afford such an attack because anchoring the team is arguably the best double-pivot in world football: Toni Kroos and Joshua Kimmich. Kroos was pass-master general of the great Real Madrid team who won three consecutive UEFA Champions Leagues between 2016 and 2018. He has completed 2,086 passes domestically this season - a league-high among La Liga midfielders. Kimmich may have spent the first two years of his international career looking like Philipp Lahm's successor at right-back, but he is now catching up with Kroos in central midfield, successful with 92 percent of his passes from that position for Bayern this term. The above might look top-heavy, but who is going to outscore Werner, Sane, Reus and Gnabry if they can't touch the ball?
At the back, Werner's former RB Leipzig colleagues Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg have the flanks covered - the former giving Kimmich's shift into midfield another upside, the steam engine up the right that he is. In between them, successors to Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng - think Robin Koch - might have looked a touch raw had the Finals rolled around this summer. A fully fit Süle alongside Matthias Ginter is 53 combined caps and counting with a year to go.
Löw could, of course, employ a variant of a 3-4-3 depending on Germany's opposition. The Netherlands were also beaten 3-2 with the system last March, and, drawn in Group F alongside current world champions France and European champions Portugal - the clear Group of Death next summer - it could be a case of adapt or die for all teams involved.
Kai Havertz up front is an exciting if untested option for Germany. The youngest player ever to reach a century of Bundesliga appearances at the tender age of 20 years, six months and three days, German football's Little Prince broke into Bayer Leverkusen's first team as a midfielder, grew into his King Kai nickname over the next four seasons, and has looked positively regal in attack since being shifted further forward for the 2019/20 Rückrunde. Havertz scored as many Bundesliga goals as Werner after Christmas - 10 - and converted just shy of 100 percent of his big chances. With a top speed of 21.7 miles per hour, he can be used just as effectively on the shoulder of the last defender as he can breaking the lines in midfield.
Watch: Havertz the striker under the tactical microscope
In goal, Borussia Mönchengladbach academy graduate and current Barcelona No.1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen must be the best deputy goalkeeper in world football, meanwhile. The 28-year-old has kept 14 clean sheets in Spain this season - including against Real and Atletico Madrid - and would walk into almost every other national teams' starting line-up. He just so happens to have the greatest of all time in his way. If Manuel Neuer, captain for club and country, didn't invent the sweeper-keeper role that ter Stegen impresses in today, then he was certainly the man who first perfected it. At 34, Neuer is still plenty good with his hands, too, and kept 15 clean sheets for Bayern last term.
That we can arrive at Germany's third-string and still count 142 caps among the personnel speaks to the sheer strength in depth the Bundesliga provides a basis for. At one end of the spectrum is 2014 World Cup winner Julian Draxler and former first-choice left-back Jonas Hector; at the other, Freiburg pair Luca Waldschmidt and Nico Schlotterbeck, who helped Germany to second place at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Italy and San Marino last summer, the former with a tournament-high seven goals.
Of the 11 above, all but Schlotterbeck have been called up for one of Löw's Germany squads since the 2018 World Cup, and if the experience of recent U21 teammates Waldschmidt, Suar Serdar, Benjamin Henrichs and Maximilian Eggestein is anything to go by, the young centre-back may not have to wait too long before graduating himself. A good season from his Germany U21 central defensive partner Luca Killian - the Dortmund youth product who spent last season at Paderborn - could see him force his way into contention just as quickly.
If those players represent the future, Draxler, Hector an Co. by no means represent the past. Draxler's season with Paris Saint-Germain was disrupted by hamstring and foot injuries long before coronavirus hit, and it might be easy to imagine that he is a wily veteran given how long he has been around. But he was still 20 when Germany lifted the World Cup in Brazil, left Schalke for France at 21 with more than 100 games under his belt, and is still only 26. Hector only turned 30 in May and was even Löw's first-choice left-back playing in Bundesliga 2 with Cologne. Good seasons from either could see them climb back into the first XI.
Down to team number four and it's onto the outside bets for next year's competition, but take a moment to digest the XI above - surely that could get to the business end of the tournament without much help from the players hitherto outlined above as ahead of them in the queue?
Lars Stindl scored the winner for Germany as they beat Chile to lift the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. He overcame a broken shin to help Gladbach into next season's Champions League eight goals in the Rückrunde alone. A full season at that rate and perhaps Havertz won't be second in line to Werner for the role of centre forward? Thomas Müller and Hummels are decidedly unlikely to make it back in having previously been told by Löw that he was taking the national team in a new direction, but the former did just break the single-season assist record in the Bundesliga with 21 while the latter was voted into an unofficial team of the season by his peers.
Elsewhere, Adrian Fein has been assured that he will be part of the Bayern first-team picture next season after his loan at Hamburg; Mainz right-back-turned midfielder Ridle Baku played the pass before the pass - the last pass before an assist - more often than anyone not called Jadon Sancho or Julian Brandt last season; and Augsburg's Philipp Max was the deadliest defender in the league with eight goals and six assists. If injuries leave Löw having to think outside the box, he needn't have to think too hard.