Germans must attack better against Latvia
18 June 2004, PORTO - Ex-champions Germany need to create more danger if they want to confirm their good start into Euro 2004 in a tricky match against newcomers Latvia in group D on Saturday.
18 June 2004
PORTO - Ex-champions Germany need to create more danger if they want to confirm their good start into Euro 2004 in a tricky match against newcomers Latvia in group D on Saturday.
Rudi Voeller's men played one of their best matches in recent years in the opening 1-1 draw with the Netherlands on Tuesday, in which Kevin Kuranyi was fielded as the lone striker.
Now a victory is needed against the likely defensive-minded Latvians. Germany has had trouble in the past with teams that sit back, and Voeller has already announced that he will field two forwards, with Fredi Bobic likely to join Kuranyi up front.
"A second forward will be fielded. We must create a little more danger in front of the goal," said Voeller.
Kuranyi agreed: "The tactics with a lone forward were good against the Dutch, but we need to generate more pressure against Latvia."
Germany's strikers have had trouble finding the net in the past, and the goal against the Dutch came from a freekick by midfielder Torsten Frings.
The midfield, most notably playmaker Michael Ballack, will have a key role to feed the forwards and not simply contain the opponent like in Tuesday's game.
"You don't win matches with team spirit and by running a lot. We will have a lot of possession, the players will have to make the most of their individual skill," said Voeller.
Frank Baumann was originally due to lose his place in the starting 11 to the Hertha Berlin striker Bobic. But the Werder Bremen player is now expected to be fielded after all in place of defender Jens Nowotny, who is unlikely to play due to a knee injury.
Anything but a victory will be a huge setback for the Germans and will make their path into the quarter-finals very difficult - with the Czechs waiting in the final match.
Latvia, for their part, narrowly lost 2-1 to the Czechs in their Euro debut - a result that boosted rather than dented the morale of the team and the entire Baltic nation where in the past basketball and ice hockey ranked ahead of football.
"We should be able to confirm our good reputation in the match with Germany," said Latvia's leading daily Diena.
Star striker Maris Verpakovskis, who further cemented his status as national hero with his goal against the Czechs, was similarly upbeat.
"I am looking forward to the game. Germany have a strong team, but I believe that I can score against them as well," said the Dynamo Kiev marksman striker Maris Verpakovskis.
Verpakovskis is the star in coach Aleksanders Starkovs's team, but Voeller warned his players to take the whole Latvian team seriously.
"We must be very very careful. One of their strengths is the attacking game," warned Voeller.
Out to stop Verpakovskis and company among others is German goalkeeper hero Oliver Kahn, who was on Thursday revealed to have a Latvian grandmother.
Kahn insisted he will hand out "no gifts" to the opposition, Voeller was also "not shattered by the news", but at least Starkovs was pleased.
"He is not half Latvian but rather quarter Latvian. But I am happy for any compatriot I run into here in Portugal," joked Starkovs.
Subject: German news