FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) -World Cup winners Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels on Wednesday secured a return to the German national team for the first time in more than two years after coach Joachim Loew included them in his 26-man Euro 2020 squad.
Mueller and Hummels, winners of the 2014 World Cup under Loew, were some of the players dropped after Germany's disappointing 2018 World Cup first round exit and their losing Nations League performance later that year.
But an overhaul that was interrupted by the pandemic in the past 12 months failed to yield any tangible results as the team crashed to their biggest competitive defeat -- a 6-0 loss to Spain -- as recently as last November.
"You can interrupt an overhaul under the circumstances," Loew told an online news conference. "In the defence we did not have the desired stability recently and... experience may have been missing in some games."
"Mats is a player who influences other players and brings experience," Loew added, also praising Mueller's superb season with Bayern Munich.
Mueller has delivered 18 assists and 11 goals in the Bundesliga alone, while Hummels has established himself as leader at freshly-crowned German Cup winners Borussia Dortmund, forcing Loew into a U-turn.
"We want a team bubbling with ambition and passion," Loew said. "A team that gives everything on the pitch to be successful. That is our aim and you can feel it in the team that it wants to be successful at this tournament."
Loew also included Monaco striker Kevin Volland, who has not played for Germany since 2016, following a strong season in the French league, as well as Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala, who earned his first callup as recently as March.
Freiburg defender Christian Guenter also surprisingly made the cut, hoping to add to his only cap from back in 2014.
The Germans are in Group F along with Hungary, holders Portugal and France, and play all three of their group matches in Munich.
"I have not yet set a goal for the tournament," said Loew. "This time we don't belong to the absolute favourites like France, for example, but this is not necessarily a burden."
"For a tournament it is important to be focused in every game, every game is a knockout game. We play with France then against Portugal. So we want to survive the group stage. If you make the mistake of thinking of a second or third step in advance it may be an obstacle.
"If we get through the group and get into a flow then my team can achieve anything," Loew added.
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Christian Guenter (Freiburg), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Robin Koch (Leeds United), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich ), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Kevin Volland (AS Monaco), Timo Werner (Chelsea)
(Reporting by Karolos GrohmannEditing by Christian Radnedge)