Germany open their Euro 2012 campaign bidding to beat Portugal for the third successive time at a major finals with captain Philipp Lahm insisting his team must show what they can do tonight.
The Germans, three-time European champions, eliminated Portugal in the quarter-finals four years ago after also beating them in the third place play-off at the 2006 World Cup. Lahm admits those results will have little effect on today’s Group B clash, but a good start is vital with 2010 World Cup finalists the Netherlands and Denmark still to come.
“The tension is building slowly, we have been working for two years for this moment,” said the 28-year-old who took over the captaincy officially from Michael Ballack after the 2010 World Cup. “It’s time to get going. We have a great squad, we just need to show what we can do.”
Countering the Ronaldo threat
Portugal’s greatest weapon is Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo whose haul of 46 Spanish league goals last season was bettered only by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who finished with a tally of 50. Ronaldo was effectively subdued by the German defence the last time the two teams met in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 which Germany won 3-2 en route to the final, but says revenge is not an issue.
“I don’t like using that term ‘revenge’ in football, because it’s simply a football match, it isn’t a war,” Ronaldo told uefa.com. “We want to win, which is obvious, because we want to start the European Championship well.”
Portugal coach Paulo Bento has said his side must be brave to beat the Germans, especially after their recent 3-1 defeat to Turkey and last month’s goal-less draw with minnows Macedonia. “Against a team like Germany you need to be organised,” he said. “You need to have courage because if you only think about defending, then surely you won’t be able to get a good result. You have to try to attack them, but in an organised way. Above all we have to be strong, aggressive and cohesive, especially when we lose the ball.”
Ozil coes over ‘nice guy’ Ronaldo
German star Mesut Ozil has poured praise on his Real Madrid team-mate and Portuguese captain Ronaldo.”He is for me an extraordinary player, in every way,” Ozil wrote in his column for German daily Die Welt online having joined Real after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. “When I arrived at Real Madrid two years ago, I felt he really took care of me. He’s not a loner, actually he gives a lot for the whole team. He acts as an example for the rest of the squad and now I know that he is simply a nice guy.”
Club: Real Madrid
An extremely clever player, who came to the fore during the 2010 World Cup, Real Madrid’s playmaker will be key to the Germans’ success in the event.
Club: Real Madrid
Having concluded a phenomenal season with the Spanish Champions, Portugal will need their captain to match the standards he has set for himself to be able to beat Germany and take his side to glory.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.
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