GDANSK, Poland: Germany are set to arrive in Gdansk for Euro 2012on Monday with key midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger havingreceived a clean bill of health and coach Joachim Loew in aconfident mood. Germany are based in the Baltic port of Gdansk, Poland, for theduration of Euro 2012, which starts on Friday with the final inKiev on July 1, with all their Group B games taking place inUkraine. The Germans have had minor setbacks in their final preparationsafter a weakened team suffered a shock 5-3 defeat to Switzerlandlast weekend, while midfield star Schweinsteiger is recovering froma calf strain. The 27-year-old is in a core group of players central to Loew'shopes of bringing home a fourth European crown, having last liftedthe title in 1996 after also winning the 1972 and 1980 tournaments. Schweinsteiger strained his left calf a fortnight ago when BayernMunich lost the Champions League final 4-3 on penalties to Chelseaas his missed spot-kick in the shoot-out helped the Blues sealvictory. |
Germany are amongst the pre-tournament favourites and open theircampaign in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday against Portugal withSchweinsteiger having been given the green light to play. "Bastian has no problems, no more pain," German team doctorHans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt told Munich-based newspaper TZ afterSchweinsteiger spent the weekend relaxing in Italy with his modelgirlfriend Sarah Brandner. "He will be treated further and we assume he will train with theteam for the first time on Monday. "Of course, he has a bit of catching up to do, but I assume he willbe fully fit to face Portugal." After giving his players the weekend to relax before the three-weeklong tournament, Loew was set to board Monday afternoon's flightfrom Frankfurt in a confident mood.
"There is no reason not to look forward to these championships,"said the 52-year-old, who will be looking to land his first trophyas German coach after taking them to the Euro 2008 final and the2010 World Cup semi-finals. "We're ready, we've trained well and we are happy that it's aboutto start. "On Friday, we will decide who will play against Portugal withplenty of enthusiasm." With the quartet of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Goetze,Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, Lazio striker Miroslav Klose andSchweinsteiger all returning from recent injuries, Loew still has afew decisions to make. Should Schweinsteiger fail to be fit in time, Munich team-mate ToniKroos is most likely to partner Real Madrid's Sami Khedira in thedefensive midfield role. As he did in last Thursday's 2-0 friendly win against Israel,captain Philipp Lahm is set to start on the left with his Bayernteam-mate Jerome Boateng on the right.
Loew needs to choose between Dortmund's Mats Hummels, Bayern'sHolger Badstuber and Mertesacker for the two places available atcentre-back. For the single striker berth, Bayern's Mario Gomez is vying withLazio veteran Klose, who turns 34 on Saturday, and is just fivegoals short of Gerd Mueller's all-time record for Germany of 68 in62 appearances. Loew has promised his players an intense week of training withHolland and Denmark still to come in Group B after Portugal andseveral thousand German fans expected to watch Monday evening'straining session here. "We need to be very focused this week, there is still much workahead of us," said Loew. - AFP/fa.
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