Created on 08-06-2012 at 00:00 AM
After a three-week warm-up phase in Sardinia, the south of France and Gdansk, Germany open their Euro 2012 campaign against Portugal on Saturday evening. “We've worked towards this moment for two years. It's time for it to start," said captain Philipp Lahm. “That's enough preparations. I'll be happy to hear the whistle for kick-off," commented coach Joachim Löw.
The Germans will be looking to open with a win against the south Europeans in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, as a winning start also preceded their three previous triumphs in the continental showdown in 1972, 1980 and 1996. “Obviously, we're determined to win it," said FCB keeper Manuel Neuer, one of eight Bayern men in Löw's squad.
Schweinsteiger fit to play
“The first match is always a voyage into the unknown," acknowledged Löw's assistant Hansi Flick, “if you win the opener, you have the wind in your sails. We need to be totally into the tournament from the very first second." The exceptionally tough Group B schedule pits Germany against arch-rivals the Netherlands just four days later. “There's even more of an edge to the match against Holland," Flick stated.
All 23 members of the squad are fit and available to play, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has shaken off a niggling calf problem. “He's making a good impression, and I reckon the team does need him," said Löw. The coach has picked his side, but has declined to reveal it to the dressing room, “to maintain the positive tension," he said.
Large Bayern contingent
Löw is set to field at least six of the FCB stars in his starting formation, together with the international experience embodied by former Munich men Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, and Real Madrid regulars Mezut Ozil and Sami Khedira. “We're geared up and totally motivated. We're ready," Löw declared. Lahm sounded a note of warning: “We have to hit the ground running in the first match. It'll be a difficult tournament."