After 'die Nationalmannschaft' were crowned world champions in Brazil on Sunday evening, the under 19 side will aim to do the same at European level. A squad filled with many fantastic young talents will kick-off that campaign on Saturday night, when they face Bulgaria in Gyor. Also in Group B are Ukraine and Serbia, who will aim to knock the pre-tournament favourites off of their perch.
One notable absence from the Germany squad is Stuttgart's Timo Werner. The young, versatile attacker wasn't allowed to travel to Hungary, as Armin Veh wanted him to remain with VfB to prepare for the coming season. It's a big miss for Marcus Sorg's side, as the striker-come-winger is one of the brightest young talents Germany have coming through. Having the awareness and poaching ability of a certain Miroslav Klose, Werner's ability to end up in the right place at the right time will be missed. Also missing from the squad are Schalke duo Maxi Meyer and Leon Goretzka. The midfielders enjoyed their break-through Bundesliga season last year, both played a crucial role in Schalke's third placed finish. In fact, the pair were more influential and more impressive than most of their senior team-mates.
Coach Marcus Sorg spoke to UEFA before the finals, "We have been mainly focusing on ourselves, so we have not been following our opponents intensively. But [before the tournament] we will gather as much information as possible on our rivals and we will prepare ourselves to the best of our abilities." said Sorg, who was ecstatic over qualifying and having beat Spain to do so. "That was fantastic, of course. We have managed to reach the final tournament for the first time in six years. That is extremely important for us. And to do that in Spain makes it even sweeter.
Sorg then detailed his hopes for this tournament, "We certainly hope so. We will invest ourselves as much as we can and we will do everything in our power to go as far as possible. When one plays in an European Championship, one always wants to go as far as possible. Of course we'd like to win, but so does every other team." said Sorg We want to play quality football at the highest level, and I think that is also what is expected of us. The core of the group has not changed, but we have to give credit to some other players that have developed greatly in the past couple of years." He then finished by noting the strengths of his side, "Well, like all German teams, we put great emphasis on discipline and organisation. Of course we also have players with exceptional quality, especially in attack."
His side already contains some fantastic talents, that have made a sizable impact last year. Five members of the squad have received the Fritz-Walter medal, the highest accolade for promising young players in Germany: had Meyer, Goretzka and Werner been included the figure would be eight. Oliver Schnitzler and Fabian Bredlow are the two shot-stoppers that Sorg has selected. Schnitzler has joined VfR Aalen this season, following limited opportunities with Bayer Leverkusen's second team. He was goalkeeper for the German side that lost out on penalties in the 2012 under 17 final to the Netherlands, while team glory wasn't achieved, he was voted as the best 'keeper of the tournament. Fabian Bredlow was a product of the Red Bull Leipzig academy, however he is yet to make a competitive appearance. He'll be moving to FC Liefering for the incoming year, which is, in effect, a second team of Red Bull Salzburg.
Like the senior side, the under 19's have a formidable defence. Kevin Akpoguma, Marc-Oliver Kempf, Anthony Syhre and Fabian Holthaus will most likely be the starting back four, with two of the above having won Fritz-Walter medals. Kevin Akpoguma, who won the gold medal for the under 18 category last year, is currently at Hoffenheim. The physically strong right-back made the move to Sinsheim from Karlsruher for around €1 million in July 2013, a hefty fee for someone so young. Akpoguma made 26 appearances for Hoffenheim II last year, scoring once and the 19-year-old even made it onto the bench for the first team last year. He was also one of the many members of this squad that suffered penalty heartache against the Dutch in 2012. Another player who was there in Solvenia was Marc-Oliver Kempf, fresh from his move to Freiburg, he'll be hoping to get some more Bundesliga minutes under his belt next season. The centre-half, who was rumoured to be close to moving to Juventus last summer, is a great signing for Freiburg, who are seemingly looking to replace Matthias Ginter. He made three first team appearances last year for Eintracht Frankfurt and will look to build on that with his move south, he also has a reputation for goal-getting which could prove crucial in these championships.
Anthony Syhre earned himself the bronze Fritz-Walter medal in the same section as Akpoguma and also made the Berlin bench on one occasion. The towering centre-half made 21 appearances for the capital club's second string side and looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Fabian Holthaus has been at Bochum has whole career and is another player with massive potential. The versatile left-sided player was a part of eight VfL matchdays last year and will hope to get even more game time this year having scored in the 2-0 win over Lithuania qualifier in May. Pascal Itter is a very able back-up, he may even start, to Akpoguma. Schalke picked up the defender, who won bronze Fritz-Walter medal winner for 2012 in the under 17 section, on a costless transfer from Nürnberg and he was part of the side that tasted defeat to the Dutch. Marvin Friedrich, club-mate of Itter, is the most versatile of all the defenders. Both featured 27 times for Schalke's under 19 side last term and will be hoping to continue to push their way up the ranks and with Friedrich's ability to play across the back four, Jens Keller may favour him over Itter.
Germany's midfield is very impressive, possibly even more so than their defence. Joshua Kimmich of Red Bull Leipzig is the man who pulls the strings at the midfield's base. Kimmich won the silver Fritz-Walter medal in under 18 section and has gone from strength to strength following his move from Stuttgart. That €500k, or there about's, transfer fee has been more than repaid, after making 26 appearances in Leipzig's run to promotion and scoring once in the process. More is expected of the talented 19-year-old in the 2.Bundesliga next year, despite his diminutive figure he isn't afraid to get stuck in and help out his team-mates. Levin Öztunalı is another impressive talent at the heart of the German midfield. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder racked up nine first team appearances last year, despite accumulating just 66 minutes, another ball-playing midfielder with bags of potential. Leverkusen picked him up from Hamburg and looks to be heading for a first team place in years to come. One would expect Öztunalı to be a quality footballer, being able to play anywhere in midfield and possessing fantastic technique, as his grand-father is German legend Uwe Seeler. Legend doesn't come close to describing Seeler to Hamburg or Germany fans, so the transfer from Hamburg to Leverkusen caused quite the frenzy. However, his mum is German and his dad is Turkish, meaning the debate continues as to where his allegiance lies.
Niklas Stark is the most 'senior' member of this German side, after playing 21 games for a relegated Nürnberg last year, he featured more than any other player in the squad at the plateau of German football. The defensive midfielder is a presence at six foot two is a tough tackler and can also be deployed at centre-half, which he was in Bavaria for a handful of games last term and that could come in handy if 'die Nationalmanschaft' suffer an injury crisis. Hany Mukhtar of Hertha Berlin has also been included, with the attacking midfielder having a fantastic record at under 19 level. After eleven appearances, Mukhtar has scored seven goals for this age group. The creative midfielder is normally deployed on the flanks for Germany, with Sorg opting for a 4-1-4-1 formation, there is no natural position for Mukhtar to occupy centrally. Not that it has hindered him, though. The 19-year-old scored a world class goal, from no less than 30 yards out, against Belgium during the qualifiers.
Marc Stendera has recovered in time from his cruciate ligament rupture to be in Hungary with the team. The Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder had an excellent 2012-13 season, especially with the younger Frankfurt sides. However, with this injury, he's missed all football from the end of February onwards. Able to play across any attacking midfield position, the 18-year-old could prove a valuable player if the Germans are struggling to unlock the opposition defence. He's one of the more experienced campaigners of this side, scoring three times in ten games. Jeremy Dudziak will provide cover for Holthaus and is equally as happy playing on the left wing on centrally. The versatile Dortmund man replaced Marcel Schmelzer in BVB's 4-1 win over Hessen Kassel on Tuesday and was then rushed off to join up with the rest of the squad. He may not earn a place in the starting eleven, but like his senior club-mate, Kevin Grosskreutz, his versatility can not be underestimated in importance should injury strike.
Speaking of Hessen Kassel, that's who Hoffenheim signed Benjamin Trümner from. Comfortable on either wing or as a centre-forward, Trümner will provide cover to the forwards and he scored seven goals in 26 games last term for the Hoffenheim U19 side, as they were crowned U19 Bundesliga champions. A form player on the bench in a major tournament is never a bad option, especially at this age. Last, but not least in the midfielder stakes, is the star of the side, Julian Brandt. Bayer Leverkusen signed him from Wolfsburg for a few hundred thousand, always one of the top German talents, he has surpassed all expectations at the top level of German football. Happy to play across the attacking line, Brandt possesses finesse in abundance and the technique to boot. Those qualities were never more apparent when he lobbed Thomas Kraft, on the volley, from twenty yards out. With two goals and two assists in six starts, Brandt should be one of the stars of the tournament.
Felix Lohkemper and Davie Selke are the two forwards that Marcus Sorg will have to choose between. Lohkemper, from Stuttgart, scored the third goal in the vital win aginst Spain. The striker, who can play out on the right, scored five goals in three games for Stuttgart's U19 side, before failing to score in seven appearances for the second side. It has to be said that he was left on the bench for the majority of those games, so there's no fair reflection in that respect. Bremen's Davie Selke is a great prospect, too. A costless transfer from Hoffenheim in January 2013, Selke made three appearances for their first team last season. A tall, out-and-out centre-forward, Selke stands at six foot four and is an old fashioned striker. The most probable man to lead the line, Selke is profilic at this age group, having scored eight goals in ten games.
Germany will play host in 2016 and are favourites to claim the title this year's title, what would be their first since the 2007/08 tournament. With such a talented group of individuals and Sorg to gel them together, it looks like Germany could be set to claim their second trophy this summer.
Goalkeepers: Fabian Bredlow (Liefering) & Oliver Schnitzler (Aalen).
Defenders: Kevin Akpoguma (Hoffenheim), Marvin Friedrich (Schalke), Fabian Holthaus (Bochum), Pascal Itter (Schalke), Marc-Oliver Kempf (Freiburg) & Anthony Syhre (Hertha Berlin).
Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Jeremy Dudziak (Borussia Dortmund), Joshua Kimmich (Red Bull Leipzig), Hany Mukhtar (Hertha Berlin), Levin Öztunali (Bayer Leverkusen), Niklas Stark (Nürnberg), Marc Stendera (Eintracht Frankfurt) & Benjamin Trümner (Hoffenheim).
Attackers: Felix Lohkemper (Stuttgart) & Davie Selke (Werder Bremen).
Back-up: Marius Gersbeck (Hertha Berlin), Christian Mauersberger (Chemnitzer), Sebastian Stolze (Wolfsburg), Maximilian Wagener (Bayer Leverkusen), André Wallenborn (Köln), Nico Brandenburger (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Julian Weigl (1860 München) & Luca Zander (Werder Bremen).