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Germany looking to end losing streak in Euro 2008 opener against Poland

Germany looking to end losing streak in Euro 2008 opener against Poland

It's been 12 years since Germany won a European Championship match.
The Germans play their first game at Euro 2008 on Sunday against Poland, and coach Joachim Loew doesn't want to waste any time snapping that winless streak.
"The last year we won was in 1996, which is why I want to make sure that we will play well also on our first match day," Loew said Saturday through a translator before a training session at Wortherseestadion in Klagenfurt.
"We know about the strengths of the Polish team, but I believe that if we can implement what we know, and if we can dictate the pace on the pitch, then I believe we will be able to play and do so quite daringly."
Poland is looking to end a streak of its own, having never beaten its neighbor since the two first met 75 years ago, losing 11 games and drawing four.
But Loew, whose team bookmakers have made the tournament favorite, warned against underestimating a Poland side making its first appearance at a European Championship.
The two teams last met at the 2006 World Cup, where Germany eked out a gritty win when Oliver Neuville scored the sole goal in injury time.
"As compared to 2006, Poland today has a much stronger team," Loew said. "They played extraordinarily well during the qualifying round. I watched video footage of the game in Portugal versus Portugal, and I was quite impressed how strong they are, how daring they are.
"I believe that the team, when it comes to their fighting spirit, their stamina and the way in which the team works as a compact unit, is quite outstanding."
But Loew's squad is no slouch. Captain Michael Ballack provides the drive, but three "insiders" might prove key against Poland.
Strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski and midfielder Piotr Trochowski were all born in Poland and are in the Germany team, which is looking to get some inside information from them.
A better bet for Germany may be to get goals from Klose and Podolski, who may start as a striker or left midfielder. Klose and Podolski started for Germany at the World Cup at home two years ago, but Mario Gomez was the top homegrown striker in the Bundesliga this past season and could be Klose's partner in the attack.
As usual, Germany coach Joachim Loew is revealing little about his intended lineup. One of his assistants, goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke, said three or four positions were still open.
Loew said Saturday he would sit down with individual players in the evening to see how mentally prepared they were for the match, then get a good night's sleep before making his final decision on his starters.
Poland took four points from Portugal in qualifying and won its group. But the Germans too have more experience now and a team that hasn't changed much from two years ago.
"We have gained maturity. We have a very strong team and we work well as a unit," Ballack said. "We are burning with desire to go out and win the first game, which is very important for confidence."
Ballack has been the target of some distasteful reporting by Polish tabloids, one of which printed a front page with a doctored photo of his chopped-off head being carried by Poland coach Leo Beenhakker, who later apologized to the German people and team.
Ballack said he did not like what he saw, adding that such photographs do not belong in football.
"But it won't influence our performance. If anything, it might increase our motivation," the midfielder said.
Added German motivation would be a problem for any team, and Poland already has enough trouble without it. Star midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski was forced out of the tournament with a hamstring injury, while backup keeper Tomasz Kuszczak quit the team Friday after injuring his back in training.
But motivation doesn't seem to be a problem for Poland, either.
"I don't have to motivate them," Beenhakker said. "I don't motivate just to motivate, I do it when they need it. And I can tell you that most of them don't need it at all, because they are already looking forward more than ever to playing the match on Sunday."
Defender Mariusz Jop said his team was stronger mentally than two years ago.
"We have our style of play, and we are going to try to impose how we play, try to play fully up to our possibilities," Jop said. "And I think if we play like we did against Portugal, we have a big chance of winning."
Goalkeeper Artur Boruc said the loss two years ago still hurt.
"Can we talk about revenge? A little, yeah," Boruc said. "The painful defeat two years ago has stuck in our memory a bit."
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Associated Press writer Nesha Starcevic in Tenero, Switzerland, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-07 01:16 GMT+08:00