World champions Germany will launch their Euro 2016 campaign on Sunday against Ukraine with Joachim Loew’s side out to prove their status as a favourite for the European title.
Germany start in Lille at 1900 GMT with a point to prove having suffered upset defeats away to Ireland and Poland in their qualifying campaign.
Loew’s side has failed to sparkle since winning the World Cup title two years ago.
To compound their problems, captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and key defender Mats Hummels have only just returned from injury.
Germany’s coach will celebrate a decade in charge after the Euro 2016 final on July 10.
But his side must prove their doubters wrong in order to lift a fourth European title, which would be their first for 30 years since current team manager Oliver Bierhoff scored the winner in the Euro ‘96 final at Wembley.
With Hummels recovering from a calf strain, Loew will cobble together a defence, which was blighted when Antonio Ruediger, another centre-back, was ruled out of the finals last Tuesday.
“We will have a good and functioning defence for our first game, I’m not worried about that,” insisted Loew.
Schweinsteiger has played just 23 minutes of football since tearing a knee ligament in March, so Loew must choose whether Manuel Neuer or Sami Khedira will captain Germany.