Former England striker Gary Lineker once famously quipped that soccer was a "simple" game: "22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."
Lineker made the remark just after England suffered a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to Germany in the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup. He was making the point, in somewhat exaggerated fashion, that Germany can never be discounted.
Germany is one of soccer's superpowers, having won three World Cups (1954, 1974 and 1990) and three European Championships (1972, 1990 and 1996), and enters Euro 2008 as one the favourites.
But this current side bears little resemblance to the great German teams of the past. It is, nonetheless, just as dangerous.
A new style, a new attitude
Gone are the days when the Germans would methodically grind out results by waiting for their opponents to make a mistake and pouncing. Former coach Juergen Klinsmann started Germany's attacking revolution at the 2006 World Cup and Joachim Loew, the new man in charge, has continued where Klinsmann left off, insisting the Germans play with speed, creativity and flair.
Solid and responsible play in defence is still stressed - the Germans conceded a meagre seven goals in 12 qualifying games - but there's also a renewed commitment to playing attacking soccer.
Indeed, the Germans scored a remarkable 35 goals in the qualifiers (more than any other country) including a 13-0 destruction of San Marino, the biggest win in UEFA European Championship qualifying history.
Not content to stick with the same team that reached the World Cup semifinals two years ago on home soil, Low has injected a touch of youth into the side, giving more than a dozen young players, including star striker Mario Gomez, their national team debut.
With a deep reservoir of world-class defenders (including Philipp Lahm and Christoph Metzelder), a star-studded midfield led by veteran Michael Ballack and a dangerous 1-2 scoring punch in forwards Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (they combined for 13 goals in the qualifiers), Loew appears to have built an indomitable team.
Solid defence, attacking flair
The results speak for themselves: Germany breezed through the qualifying campaign and was the first country to qualify for Euro, giving opposing teams an idea of how hungry they are to win in Austria and Switzerland this summer.
Expectations are running high amongst German fans, but Loew takes it all in stride, and is confident of his team's chances of success.
"I don't feel much pressure and I don't feel weighed down with responsibility," Loew told reporters earlier this week at Germany's training camp.
"In 2006 Klinsmann was in charge but I had a lot of responsibility even then. We shared the running of the team for two years and I felt as responsible then as I do now."
Just as important to Germany as winning a fourth European title this summer is reasserting itself as a world soccer power.
Despite being considered of the top teams in the history of the sport, Germany has not won a major title since Euro '96 and has embarrassingly crashed out in the first round of the past two European Championships, going winless in six games.
Germany has been looking forward to this tournament and the opportunity to send a message to the rest of the soccer world that its best days are not behind it but, in fact, lie ahead.
"At the last World Cup, we all had the feeling that a new team was born, one without any complexes and with lots of desire, ambition and, of course, talent. Once the disappointment had subsided after the semifinal defeat by Italy, the focus naturally switched to the European Championship. We all want to relive the emotion of our World Cup, with this time a little more success," Lahm told Sports Illustrated.