Neuer ready for Euro glory

World cham­pi­ons open their Euro cam­paign to­day against Ukraine

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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.

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