Germany coach Joachim Löw has announced a 27-man provisional squad for UEFA EURO 2012.
Löw has called up four goalkeepers and 23 outfield players in his initial selection. He hinted that he is likely to wait until 29 May before confirming his final party to travel to Poland and Ukraine, with Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München contesting the German Cup final on Saturday, and Bayern also facing Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League showpiece a week later.
"We have to make the best of this situation and try to form a team capable of winning the tournament in a relatively short time span," Löw said. "I don't see us as clear favourites. Spain have been the most consistent team over the last few years. There are also quite a few other teams capable of winning the competition. A European Championship is always a devilishly hard tournament to win."
Expectation is high in Germany after a perfect record in qualifying, but Löw added: "We have many young players, who have never played a big tournament. It's a similar situation to [the FIFA World Cup in] 2010. An advantage is that our foundation is better than in 2008 or even 2010, with our philosophy now solidified over the past two years. We have a very balanced squad with a good age structure."
While the likes of Dennis Aogo, Simon Rolfes and Christian Träsch have not made the cut, VfB Stuttgart striker Cacau keeps his place, holding off the claims of Patrick Helmes and Stefan Kiessling. "We had long talks about our attacking options, especially regarding Helmes. We decided in favour of Cacau because we think he is better in tights spaces while Helmes is more of a counterattacking striker."
The only real surprise was the inclusion of FC Schalke 04 winger Julian Draxler, who received his first call-up. "He has enormous potential, is very, very young and will develop," Löw added. "His strengths are his pace and his skill in one-on-one situations. We believe that he can help us on the wings with his pace and dribbling skills."
Germany take on Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark in Group B at UEFA EURO 2012 this summer, with friendlies against Switzerland and Israel beforehand.
Provisional Germany squad
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München), Tim Wiese (SV Werder Bremen), Marc-André ter Stegen (VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96).
Defenders: Holger Badstuber (FC Bayern München), Jérôme Boateng (FC Bayern München), Benedikt Höwedes (FC Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC).
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Toni Kroos (FC Bayern München), Thomas Müller (FC Bayern München), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid CF), Marco Reus (VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach), André Schürrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München), Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), İlkay Gündoğan (Borussia Dortmund), Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln).
Forwards: Cacau (VfB Stuttgart), Miroslav Klose (S.S. Lazio), Mario Gomez (FC Bayern München).
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