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Fifty up for Philipp

Lahm set for milestone Germany cap

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If selected for Germany’s meeting with Finland on Wednesday – and a late injury is surely the only thing which would prevent it - Philipp Lahm will win a 50th international cap at the age of 24 years and ten months. To put that achievement into perspective, the three most-capped players in German football history, Lothar Matthäus, Jürgen Klinsmann and Jürgen Kohler, had reached 36, 12, and 32 caps respectively at the same age. It could even have been more for Lahm had he not missed the whole of 2005 with injury. “Obviously I’m delighted,” the defender observed, “it’s not the kind of thing you achieve in passing. Naturally, the best thing would be for us to win the game too.“

That will certainly not be as straightforward as the Germans’ routine 6-0 victory in Liechtenstein on Saturday. “Finland is a different kettle of fish,” acknowledged Lahm, not yet on the international scene the last time the two countries clashed. The Germans struggled against the Finns in 2002 World Cup qualifying, dropping points in 2-2 and 0-0 draws and eventually forced into a play-off against Ukraine before booking a place at the finals.

Test for defence

The German squad set off for Helsinki a full day earlier than originally planned in order to concentrate even more fully on the match. “Their team is full of players from the English Premier League, and it’ll be an intimidating atmosphere. We’ll have to see how we cope,” commented coach Joachim Löw.

The German rearguard was hardly tested in Liechtenstein, but the Finns are bound to pose a different set of questions. “Our defence will be under a lot more pressure,” commented Lahm, describing the Finns as “awkward opponents, good in defence and tactically strong.“