Expatica news

Germans not too pleased with Euro-draw

1 December 2003

HAMBURG – Record winners Germany were not exactly euphoric to have drawn bitter rivals Netherlands and another ex-champion in the form of the Czech Republic in the Euro 2004 group draw on Sunday.

Captain Oliver Kahn also warned the other group D team, Latvia, should not be underestimated.

“This is a very, very tough group. And there is no reason to underestimate Latvia, either,” insisted goalkeeper Kahn.

Coach Rudi Voeller agreed: “There is no reason to celebrate. This is a very difficult group. We could have had it easier.”

“We have to be honest. The Czech Republic and Netherlands are very classy teams, and given their past results, have a better chance to advance.”

Germany are unlikely to play a February friendly in the Netherlands after both teams were drawn to play in the same group at Euro 2004 in Portugal, it emerged on Monday.

Sources within the German national federation DFB said that Greece, who are coached by German Otto Rehhagel, or Bulgaria could be potential opponents instead of the Dutch.

The Dutch are reportedly also not keen on meeting Germany on 18 February in Rotterdam.

A final decision is likely to be made when both sides have found adequate replacements.

Voeller was not only dissatisfied about the opponents but also about the fact that Germany are in group D, the group which starts play last on the fourth day of the tournament, June 15.

“I would have preferred an earlier start,” he said.

The tension-filled game with the Dutch on that day was swiftly switched from the small Aveiro stadium to Porto’s 50,000-seat Dragao stadium by organisers and the ruling body UEFA.

Germany have lost both previous matches against the Dutch at the continental showpiece, in the 1988 semi-finals and 1992 group stage. In addition, the Dutch won a friendly in impressive style 3-1 less than 12 months ago.

“If the Dutch play like (in the 6-0 playoff victory) against Scotland, then we will face a very hard time,” warned German football supremo Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder.

There is also no reason for the Germans to underestimate the Czechs, who in fact won their qualifying group ahead of the Dutch.

At previous Euro-events, Germany lost the 1976 final to then Czechoslovakia. But they won the next three meetings, in the 1980 group stage and twice at the 1996 edition, in the group stage and again in the final from Oliver Bierhoff’s Golden goal. The 2004 game is scheduled for 23 June.

Germany played and beat Latvia twice in the 1930s, but the two sides have not met since Latvia became in independent state again in the early 1990s.

But the Germans are aware that they have no reason to underestimate a team which won its first Euro-berth by beating the third-placed World Cup finishers Turkey in a two-legged playoff.

“We don’t know Latvia, but they beat Turkey,” said striker Oliver Neuville ahead of the 19 June game.

Germany are record European champions with three titles 1972, 1980 and 1996. But they crashed out winless in the group stage at the last edition in 2000.

Subject: German news