Germany seeks to raise their game
IT IS almost impossible to believe that a team with Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Mesut Oezil look vulnerable but Germany will really have to live up to their reputation of raising their game for the big occasion at Euro 2016.
The team that beat Brazil 7-1 as they marched to a World Cup triumph in 2014 have lost seven games since and stumbled toward the European Championship finals where they have a tricky Group C start against Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland.
Their 2-0 win against Hungary in their final warm-up was Germany's first clean sheet for a year.
"It was important to keep them down to nil, the win gives us a bit of stability and a good feeling for next week," said a relieved coach Joachim Loew after Sunday's game.
Loew takes his team to France with injury worries.
Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger played only 23 minutes against Hungary and said he doubts he will be able to play all of the opening game against Ukraine on June 12.
Key defender Mats Hummels is doubtful with a calf injury. Winger Marco Reus was left out of the squad because of a groin injury.
When an under-strength Germany lost 3-1 to Slovakia last week, it should have been a sign of crisis.
But Germany are still the most valuable squad in Europe and Mueller is favourite to top the scorers' rankings in France. Kroos has been a key player at Champions League winners Real Madrid while Oezil's passing was back to its brilliant cheeky best against Hungary.
And Germany are known for saving their best for major tournaments. They did not start the World Cup as favourites.
"We want to go for the title. We have a great spirit so there shouldn't be any problems with motivation," said Mueller.