Neuer ready for Euro glory
World champions open their Euro campaign today against Ukraine
Germany’s preparations for Euro 2016 may not have gone to plan but Manuel Neuer still cannot wait for the world champions to get their campaign under way today against Ukraine.
Much has been expected of Joachim Loew’s side since they triumphed in Brazil in 2014 and though they qualified comfortably for the Euros, there were some bumps along the way.
Germany lost to Poland and the Republic of Ireland on the way to topping their group. While preparing for this summer’s tournament they also lost to France, England and Slovakia.
But Neuer is unconcerned by their seven defeats since their win over Argentina in the Maracana two years ago and is excited at the prospect of winning another trophy in France.
“We are excited that the tournament is about to begin,” said the Bayern Munich goalkeeper.
“The best thing is when the matches start, the mood within the team is very good and we can hardly wait to take to the pitch.”
Neuer is now a senior figure in the German squad and could well be handed the captain’s armband against Ukraine.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger (inset) out of form, and not fully fit, it could be Neuer who leads his side. But far from being intimidated, the keeper is happy to accept extra responsibility. “As a goalkeeper, I talk a lot to my fellow players on and off the pitch,” he said. “For a few years now I have seen myself as a leader and I particularly try to help the young players who come into the squad. “But it doesn’t really matter to us who wears the armband if Bastian doesn’t start.” Neuer may well be called into action more than he would like against Ukraine with Mats Hummels and Antonio Rudiger both out through injury.
Jerome Boateng is fit but the injury news has come as a welcome boost to Ukraine’s assistant coach Andriy Shevchenko who believes his side could cause an upset in Lille.
“We understand what we are up against. Maybe we are a bit weaker individually, so we have to be better collectively,” said the former star striker. “We will try to build on our compactness, movement, tactical nous and fast attacks, which have always been typical for Ukraine. We are going to give Germany a good game.”
However, recent history is certainly on Germany’s side as they are unbeaten against Ukraine in five previous encounters and have scored seven goals in their last two games.