Germany have made no secret of their intention to win UEFA EURO 2012 in June having underlined their status this year as one of the pretenders to the title which will be decided in Kiev on 1 July.
After finishing third at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the Germans completed their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a perfect 10 wins from 10 while claiming the scalps of Brazil and Netherlands in friendlies.
Having taken over as head coach after the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Joachim Low has utilised the youthful talent of fleet-footed midfielders Mario Goetze, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller to inject pace into the German attack.
"This Germany team is the strongest in Europe," said veteran striker Miroslav Klose, the oldest member of the squad at 33. "We can win the European Championships next summer without any doubt."
But with the start of the tournament, to be hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, still more than six months away, Germany's coach has played down growing expectations. Having traditionally been known for their highly-effective football, the Germans are forging a reputation for a fast-paced counter-attacking game, but question marks linger over their defence.
Of the current crop of rising German stars, the silky skills of Marco Reus have been showcased by Borussia Monchengladbach's rise having only narrowly avoided relegation in May. Likewise Dortmund's Goetze is realising his potential and the 19-year-old ran the German attack in the 3-2 win over Brazil in August.
Having drawn with Italy in a friendly in February and hammered Kazakhstan 4-0 in a Euro 2012 qualifier, a weakened Germany were caught out when Australia beat them for the first time in March. Having returned to winning ways in qualifiers, a full-strength team dazzled against Brazil with the Germans taking a 2-0 lead before a penalty and late goal gave the score-line some respectability for the South Americans.
A 6-2 victory over Austria in September confirmed the Germans' Euro berth, while the draw for the finals has pitted them in Group B alongside Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.
Low has yet to decide on a settled back four with captain Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker as first choice alongside two from Dortmund's Mats Hummels, Bayern's Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and Schalke's Benedikt Hoewdes.
The Germans finished the year by forcing Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk to admit he was 'embarrassed' by the Oranje's 3-0 defeat in Hamburg. In their defence, it was a Dutch team missing Arsenal striker Robin van Persie and Tottenham midfielder Raphael van der Vaart, but the Germans were without broken collarbone-victim Bastian Schweinsteiger, while Lahm was rested. Even without Schweinsteiger, Germany were solid in midfield with Ozil and Mueller linking with Klose.
The Lazio hot-shot now has 63 goals for his country in 113 appearances and is closing in on Gerd Mueller's 37-year-old record of 68 goals in 63 games as Germany's all-time top scorer.