Here we go again

Germany celebrate after securing Euro 2012 qualification
Young and vibrant Germany thrashed Austria to secure qualification

While the fight goes on for England (surely), the Republic of Ireland (possibly), Northern Ireland and Scotland (it could still happen) to qualify for Euro 2012, four of the continent's leading football nations can already start to prepare properly having sealed their places in Poland and Ukraine.

In the latest round of games, Italy joined defending European and World champions Spain in celebrating qualification, and the Dutch are definitely there too as they are guaranteed to be best runner-up at least. All, though, were beaten to the honour of being 'first past the post' by a very impressive Germany.

Their eighth win out of eight qualifying games was a 6-2 thrashing of neighbours Austria, with the display of attacking football put on by Joachim Low's side more than justifying the scoreline.

It followed a 3-2 win over Brazil in an August friendly when they were equally as impressive going forward, and the signs are that this German team will be the one to pose the biggest threat to Spain's European crown. Not that saying that represents a huge gamble!

Let's face it, the Germans have not often experienced the 'doldrums' of international football - even when they were supposed to be at a relatively low ebb they managed to reach the World Cup final in 2002.

A sprinkling of those who starred in South Africa last year were instrumental against Austria. Bastian Schweinsteiger patrolled the midfield with menace, man-of-the-match Mezut Ozil scored twice, and Thomas Mulller was arguably even better than his goalscoring 'seniors' Miroslav Klose (now 33) and Lukas Podolski (still only 26 and with 92 caps behind him).

For the second game running though, the scorers of the last two German goals caught my eye in particular.

Mario Goetze and Andre Schurrle have emerged to join the likes of Muller and Toni Kroos as the bright new things in German football. The youngest talents in a squad that, Klose aside, has a youthful energy to it throughout.

Attacking midfielder Goetze scored on his first start for his country against Brazil, and followed it up by coming off the bench to bag against the Austrians. He'll only leave his teens five days before Euro 2012 kicks off, but looks to have the ability and confidence to live up to the hype that's building rapidly in Germany.

When wise old heads like Franz Beckenbauer and Mattias Sammer give the verdicts "instinctive...just like Messi" (Beckenbauer) and "one of the best talents we've ever had" (Sammer), you know you're dealing with something special.

He's started the Bundesliga season in excellent form too, as Borussia Dortmund's creator-in-chief. And, as with most top talents, there's a fiery side - demonstrated by his (harsh) red card at Bayer Leverkusen just before the international break, a reaction to being on the end of some 'special' treatment from the opposition.

From that Leverkusen side comes 20-year-old Schurrle, who's fast becoming Germany's second wave goal threat from the bench. His goal, the team's fifth against Austria was his fourth in the last six internationals, with three scored as a substitute.

A tall, stylish forward, he's moved up after just a year in the Under-21s and by next June could be getting a regular starting place. A first season wearing number nine for Leverkusen after his move from Mainz will be a big one for him.

Last year, Goetze and Schurrle became the first Germany players to have been born after reunification in 1990. Next year, don't be surprised if their abilities help the country reunite with a trophy they last won in 1996.