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Germany relying on ‘insiders’

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TEAM TO BEAT: Germany has a lot of talented players and is expected to live up to the tag of favourite.
TEAM TO BEAT: Germany has a lot of talented players and is expected to live up to the tag of favourite.

TENERO (Switzerland): Germany hopes the advice of three “insiders” will help it snap a 12-year winless streak at the European football Championship when it opens against Poland on Sunday.

Three German players were born in Poland and team officials made no secret of the fact that they were relying on them to get some inside information — and not only on the proper pronunciation of Polish names.

Strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski and midfielder Piotr Trochowski are the three naturalised Poles in the German team.

“They are the so-called insiders and we may have an advantage because of that,” Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said.

A better bet for Germany may be to get goals from both Klose and Podolski, who may get a chance to start, either 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 letting out little about his intended line-up for the match in Klagenfurt.

Germany is chasing its fourth European title, but it hasn’t won a game since 1996, covering two tournaments. That may sound hopeful for Poland, but it has never beaten Germany in 15 tries and has 11 losses. The last time the two teams met was in the group stage at the World Cup and Germany won 1-0 on an injury-time goal from substitute Oliver Neuville.

“They were already playing well at the World Cup. They stayed with us for 90 minutes and gave us a lot of trouble at home,” Loew said. “And they qualified with ease.”

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,” Germany captain Michael Ballack said.

More than usual German motivation would be a problem for any team, and Poland already has enough trouble without it, with important midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski forced out of the tournament with a hamstring injury.

Motivation doesn’t seem to be a problem for Poland either. — AP

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