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State of readiness

Neuer enjoying build-up to Euro showdown

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A communal meal for a football team is normally a very relaxed affair. The chat is about training, matches and personal matters, but the atmosphere will be a lot more formal at the Germany team base in Gdansk on Wednesday evening when Chancellor Angela Merkel pops in to visit Philipp Lahm and Co. Merkel is expected for dinner, “and she'll deliver a short speech," announced team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

Speaking from Berlin, government spokesman Steffen Seibert explained that the approximately two-hour visit was a gesture of support for the national team “prior to what may well be a difficult group stage." The Germans open their Group B campaign against Portugal on Saturday, before meeting the Netherlands on 13 June and Denmark four days later.

Good start will be vital

“I'm looking forward to the Chancellor's visit," Manuel Neuer told the daily press conference on Wednesday. Defender Per Mertesacker spoke of “a great honour for the team, and a good omen." Merkel has been a frequent visitor to the national team, including an appearance at the 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, which Neuer and his team-mates won 4–0.