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Croatia's Robert Kovac vies with Germany's Lukas Podolski during the Euro 2008 tie
© dpa - Bildfunk
Showdown for the German team

June 16, 2008

Germany and national team coach Joachim Löw are under immense pressure ahead of the make-or-break match against Austria on Monday, June 16, 2008.

It's either a quarter-final date with Portugal or one of the biggest shocks in the history of the German national team: when Germany take on Austria on the final matchday of group B, the two years under coach Joachim Löw could end in disaster.

No one in the German camp wants to think about defeat, however - everyone is convinced of reaching the knock-out stages.

Ballack demands reaction

"We know that everything will be called into question if we lose. But we don't deal with that. We want to win, and everyone is convinced of that 100%", Michael Ballack said. "We now have the pressure, but we have often proved that we can handle it", the DFB skipper added.

The team even met for a crisis talk without the coaches. "It's important to show a reaction", Ballack demanded.

"The discussion is ridiculous"

Torsten Frings doesn't want to think back to 2000 and 2004 when Germany were eliminated after the group stages. "If you've got the chance to eliminate the hosts in front of 50,000 in Vienna, it's a positive thing."

All players came in on Joachim Löw's side after the national team coach had come under pressure. "The discussion is riduculous. But I don't expect things to go wrong so it will stop soon", Frings insisted.

Changes to the line-up

The 48-year-old himself promised that "we will see a different team on Monday, regarding the attitude but also the line-up."

Possible candidates for a place in the starting line-up could be Arne Friedrich (with Philipp Lahm at left-back for injured Marcell Jansen) and midfielders Thomas Hitzlsperger and Tim Borowski.

Podolski up front

Lukas Podolski, scorer of all three German goals so far, is expected to play alongside Miroslav Klose up front, with Mario Gomez being benched after disappointing performances.

Gomez is expected to sit alongside Kevin Kuranyi, who might have to wait a bit longer for his 50th cap. Bastian Schweinsteiger (red card) is suspended for one game.

Another "Cordoba"?

Hosts Austria are dreaming of a repeat of "Cordoba". At the 1978 World Cup the Austrians had defeated Germany 3-2, with Hans Krankl scoring a brace.

"The players should go out and make history themselves. They could be heroes and erase Cordoba", Krankl commented.

"A historic chance"

Austria haven't beaten neighbours Germany in 22 years, but the hosts are confident ahead of the clash. "We have a realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals with a win. It's a historic chance for the team", team manager Andreas Herzog commented.

"It's all or nothing, either the quarter-final or the end of our dreams. Therefore I'm especially delighted that we're up against Germany", Josef Hickersberger said.

The Austrian coach will have to make do without central defender Sebastian Prödl (suspension).

Line-ups as expected:

Germany: 1 Lehmann - 4 Fritz (3 Friedrich), 17 Mertesacker, 21 Metzelder, 16 Lahm - 18 Borowski (4 Fritz), 13 Ballack, 8 Frings, 15 Hitzlsperger - 11 Klose, 20 Podolski

Austria: 1 Macho - 14 Garics, 3 Stranzl, 4 Pogatetz, 5 Fuchs - 6 Aufhauser, 10 Ivanschitz, 8 Leitgeb, 11 Korkmaz - 9 Linz, 20 Harnik

Referee: Mejuto Gonzales (Spain)



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