Created on 08-06-2008 at 00:00 AM
After three gruelling weeks of pre-tournament training, Germany open their campaign at the European championships with a crunch clash against Poland on Sunday evening. “The team is red hot and determined to land a first victory,” announced captain and ex-FCB midfielder Michael Ballack ahead of the Group B showdown in Klagenfurt.
Ballack and another six or seven players are all but certain starters for Joachim Löw’s side, three of them on the books at Bayern, namely full-backs Philipp Lahm and Marcell Jansen, and centre-forward Miroslav Klose. However, Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger will also entertain high hopes of starting against their country’s eastern neighbours.
Rummenigge crossing fingers
“I’m preparing as I would if I was set to play,” commented Podolski, a candidate for a left midfield berth – potentially at the expense of team-mate Schweinsteiger, who had “not yet reached peak form," coach Löw declared a couple of days ago. However, speaking ahead of Germany’s final training session at the Wörtherseestadion, the coach praised Schweinsteiger for “definite progress since the beginning of the week."
“It would be great if five Bayern players started the match. It would be wonderful for Bayern Munich as a club,” declared chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in an FCB.tv interview ahead of the continental match-up.
Germany, who have never lost to Poland at senior international level, will be looking to open their campaign with three points and justify their role as one of the favourites for the outright victory. “We came up just short two years ago, but we want to go all the way this time. We’re looking for a happy end to our adventure this time, in the Euro final on 29 June in Vienna,” Löw said in an open letter to registered Germany supporters.
Bayern President Franz Beckenbauer believes the team he once graced with his sublime talent can triumph in Switzerland and Austria. “We’re in with a realistic chance of the trophy. We may not be number one favourites, but I agree with Helmut Schön, who once told me and his international players: The others will have to beat us first." Klose, Lahm and Co will be doing their bets to make it so.