Otto Rehagel, Kaiserslautern manager: "We play our best when there are no opponents on the pitch".
Nowadays no one in Germany believes that they can defend the title that they have won four years ago in England. It would be right to say that German national team has never suffered from so many 'disorders and confusions' before the main tournament of continent. Can you remember even one match in these last four years that Germany played on a high class, not leaving you any doubts that it's the strongest team in Europe?
Classification to Euro2000 didn't bring a lot of happiness to German fans. The team has achieved the result but the first place in the group was very hard to conquer. And the rivals were - Finland, Northern Ireland, Moldavia and Turkey. In the last match against Turkey on 'Olimpiastadion' in Munich only God helped the champions to grab one point in a goalless draw. The Turks would have taken the first place if they'd won... Visitors had five or more true moments to score and the German defence was a complete mess. Other positions did not look well too.
"Thanks God we did not concede a goal in the beginning of the match", - Ribbeck sighted with relief after the final whistle. " You could've humbled with such game but only on an away leg",- Bayern president told.
Frankly speaking, after awful World Cup 98, German team did not improve its game, and that of course was harsh on German fans. By the way, no television show in Germany gathered so many people as national team matches. Euro96 final was watched live by 28.4 million people. And even friendly against USA gathered 24.3 million people.
DIFFICULTIES WITH TALENTS
Zepp Gerberger, Germany coach, 1936-1964:"The next game is always the most important".
Serious check should have been a friendly game against, Holland, one of the hosts of Euro2000 in Amsterdam. Unfortunately this game pleased fans only with record of 39 years old Lothar Mattheus, who played his 144 match for the national team - more than anyone in the world. All the rest...
After the game which ended with the score 2-1 to Holland (Holland could have scored more than 2 goals), famous in past midfielder Gunter Netzer told :" Holland showed us how far behind them we are..."
To be continued...
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All pictures are courtesy of Reuters Limited