Things looking up for German football

3rd June 2004, Comments 0 comments

3 June 2004 , HAMBURG - Germany may be record European champions with three titles, not to mention finishing runners-up at the 2002 World Cup, but they must have mixed feelings ahead of Euro 2004 in Portugal. Rudi Voeller's team remained undefeated in Group 5 against Scotland, Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands but nonetheless played an indifferent campaign. Their last Euro adventure in 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands ended in total disaster as they were sent packing winless at the group stage. I

3 June 2004

HAMBURG - Germany may be record European champions with three titles, not to mention finishing runners-up at the 2002 World Cup, but they must have mixed feelings ahead of Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Rudi Voeller's team remained undefeated in Group 5 against Scotland, Iceland, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands but nonetheless played an indifferent campaign.

Their last Euro adventure in 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands ended in total disaster as they were sent packing winless at the group stage.

In addition, Germany have not beaten a major footballing nation since a 1-0 win in England in October 2000 - the latest a humiliating 3-0 home defeat against defending European champions France on November 15.

The drubbing against France was followed by a 2-1 victory in Croatia and a 3-0 win against Belgium, that had fans thinking the team could possibly do well in Portugal. A 5-1 defeat in Romania in April blew all of that away though and little is now expected from the team.

But Voeller insisted: "We should not start panicking now."

A 7-0 victory against Malta in a friendly at the end of May would suggest that Voeller was right and even though he had to replace several injured players from his squad - like SV Hamburg's Christian Rahn and Bochum's Paul Freier - he is going to Portugal confident that his team can prove detractors wrong.

Voeller's main hope is that youngsters like VfB Stuttgart's Kevin Kuranyi and Andreas Hinkel will further improve.

"We are not saying that we will go to Portugal, easily beat every opponent and make it into the final. We are well aware that a Euro tournament with a large amount of classy teams is very difficult," said Voeller.

"I am convinced that we will play a good role at Euro," he added despite the France disaster.

This view was shared by the players.

"Our team has experience and quality. We can do well at the European championships," said captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

Euro 2004 is considered only a stepping stone towards the 2006 World Cup where Germany would like nothing more than a fourth title as the host nation.

The 2003 matches showed that even defenders like Christian Woerns can be outplayed almost at will by top strikers like Thierry Henry and that playmaker Michael Ballack is still far away from the real greats such as Zinedine Zidane.

Voeller will also have to work on the famed German fighting spirit which was rarely seen during the year. Germany did nothing to avoid defeat against France and were equally dull in the closing stages of their 0-0 draw in Iceland and 1-1 home draw against Lithuania.

The main hope appears to be that Germany can rise to the occasion at a big event like so often in the past where they were also not the most skilful team.

"If one didn't know that determination and a big portion of luck brought surprise success at past tournaments things would look black regarding Portugal," said Kicker sports magazine after the defeat against France.

"Maybe not as grim as at Euro 2000 because the team spirit is better now. But no one should be hoping for a similar miracle as at the 2002 World Cup," Kicker said.

DPA

Subject: German news 

 

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