Germany head into the summer break second in group D in their quest to qualify for Euro 2016. But where does the team stand a year on from winning the World Cup? DW's Jefferson Chase looks at the pros and cons.
There was a sense in some of the German media that coach Jogi Löw's charges had a disappointing week before they shuffled off into their summer holidays. After losing a friendly to the United States, Die Mannschaft struggled for forty-five minutes to break down Gibraltar - a country considerably smaller than the average district in the German capital Berlin.
But this was a case of there's-no-news-like-bad-news media bias. In truth, we should be careful about concluding too much from a match that didn't count and a rather farcical encounter with a footballing minnow in the middle of June.
By the time the European Championship rolls around next year, the spine of Löw's squad should be equal to or better than that of the World Cup winners. His central defense is world class, as is his attacking midfield. It's worth remembering that the coach gave players like Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Marco Reus a week off against the Americans and the Gibraltarians.
And a couple of newer players did recommend themselves. Patrick Herrmann had a nifty game against the US, and Max Kruse did well against Gibraltar in a position that has gone somewhat out of fashion for Germany - center forward. Löw started that match with what amounted to seven midfielders. If Kruse can develop in the target-man mold of a Miroslav Klose, he would give his coach another tactical option.
The main negative to the post-World-Cup German national team is that while the center is excellent, the fringes definitely need some work. At their present state of development, it would be a bit of a stretch to play Sebastian Rudy and Jonas Hector with a major title on the line.
There are also some question marks in defensive midfield. What? you ask. Isn't that one of Germany's strengths with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Ilkay Gündogan all competing for spots? Yes, but with a caveat. All three have had injury problems, and all could be moving to different teams before Euro 2016. That's a potential source of uncertainty precisely in the area where championships are often won and lost.
Finally, Löw faces the question of what to do with Mario Götze. Against Gibraltar, he once again looked out of position spearheading Germany's attack. And although the 23-year-old is without doubt one of the most prodigious talents in the game, he's at his best in the playmaker role, and it's hard to see him getting past Mesut Özil, when he struggles to get regular playing time at Bayern.
Those three points are issues Löw will need to address when Germany return from their summer fun in the sun and the second half of Euro 2016 qualifying begins.