'Beating big teams made Germany what it is now' | sports | Hindustan Times
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'Beating big teams made Germany what it is now'

If Germany are gung-ho about this year's European championships, it is partly because they can look back with satisfaction at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. That is what the best young player at the last World Cup and the best goalkeeper in waiting feel.

sports Updated: Jan 21, 2012 23:14 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

If Germany are gung-ho about this year's European championships, it is partly because they can look back with satisfaction at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. That is what the best young player at the last World Cup and the best goalkeeper in waiting feel.

"Beating huge teams such as England and Argentina (in the pre-quarter finals and the next round) and making it to the half-final (semi-final) contributed to Germany being what it is now," said Thomas Mueller, switching between English and German as effortlessly as he shifts from playing behind the striker at Bayern Munich to a wide right midfielder with the national team.

When the question was put to Manuel Neuer, the massive Bayern and Germany goalkeeper, he said: "Beating such big opponents gave this team a big push and that along with the results of subsequent matches is the reason for so much self-confidence."

On a roll
Germany have qualified for the European championships with a 100% record and, between beating Uruguay to the third place in the last World Cup and now, have downed Brazil and the Netherlands in friendlies.

The European championships will be held in Poland and Ukraine from June 8 to July 1.

"Of course, we are in a strong group with Poland and the Netherlands and we are not underestimating Denmark but we are confident… And at 22, I am usually no longer the youngest player in the team," said Mueller, a Bayern fan before joining their youth team in 2000.

Former European and world champion Uli Hoeness said Germany are now on a par with Spain and Paul Breitner, his teammate in the triumphs of 1972 and 1974, said finally they have a generation of football players and not "football workers".

Mueller though put Spain "half-a-stage higher." "They are the world and European champions but our team is now in a position where we can beat Spain on a perfect day. We know we are good, we know we are better than two years ago," he said. The interviews were done separately but both Mueller and Neuer said they enjoy being under pressure.