World champions Germany host Poland in Friday’s key Euro 2016 qualifier with the hosts out to put last year’s historic defeat behind them and move top of Group D.
The Germans have a score to settle in Frankfurt in the first of their two qualifiers before playing Scotland in Glasgow next Monday.
Joachim Loew’s side find themselves in the usual position of being second in the table, just a point behind leaders Poland, who beat them 2-0 in the corresponding fixture in Warsaw last October, while Scotland are third.
The Germans are making no secret of their desire to take six points from their two games to wrest back control of the group from neighbours Poland.
“It’s business time now,” said Germany forward Thomas Mueller, with Germany set to name a full-strength side.
“This is no friendly – we’re getting straight into it with what is supposedly the hardest game.
“After losing 2-0 last time, we have a score to settle against Poland, and that should tell you everything.
“And after that, the away game in Scotland – it doesn’t get much more interesting.”
“They are first, we are second, of course, we want to pass them in the table, but it’s going to be tough work, we know that.
“We need to play the sort of football again which we haven’t seen for a while.”
– Under pressure –
As German daily Die Welt pointed out, a poll of Germans suggest the euphoria of the Brazil triumph has faded with only 13 percent believing their side will win the Euro 2016 title in France.
The top two teams from each group qualify automatically, but Germany will want to make sure they finish in their accustomed top spot.
Having suffered a post-Brazil hangover, Loew’s side want to rediscover the form that carried them to last year’s World Cup triumph.
Poland arrive in Frankfurt looking to complete the double over their neighbours to stay top of the group before they play bottom side Gibraltar in Warsaw next Monday, having mauled the minnows 7-0 away in September last year.
Mueller’s Bayern team-mate Robert Lewandowski will lead Poland’s attack and the hotshot striker says Germany will be showing his side a lot more respect than they did when the teams last met.
“My team-mates from Bayern told me after the first match they would do everything to take revenge in the second game,” said Lewandowski.
“I live in Germany and I can tell nobody is even contemplating missing out on the Euro finals.
“The only question is whether they will finish top of the group or runners-up.
“Germany look at us differently now”
“They respect us. I don’t think they will swarm all over us from the beginning as they know we could hit them on the counterattack.”
Poland will be without defender Michal Pazdan, who has an elbow injury, while Karol Linetty is struggling after a knock to the head in training.
As defender Kamil Glik put it: “We have nothing to lose in Frankfurt. We want to confirm our qualities.” – Agence France-Presse