DFB team qualify for EURO 2012 in record time

The atmosphere was similar to those memorable summer days at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The German national team had inspired 53,000 spectators at Schalke Arena and brought ecstasy to the homes of millions of TV viewers with a brilliant performance when defeating Austria 6-2. The World Cup bronze medallists are breaking all records on their road to the 2012 UEFA European Championship, triggering great euphoria and expectations with fantastic football and some best performance for decades. It was another gala to follow the 3-2 win over Brazil on August 10. They became the first team in Europe to make participation certain with a “qualification quickie”, brought about by an eighth victory in the eighth match and a goal tally of 28-5.

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Mesut Oezil enjoys the goal to make it 4-1. The former Schalke player performed brilliantly against Austria at Gelsenkirchen. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


On the evening of September 2, Germany were the first team to book their ticket to the continental tournament in Poland and Ukraine (June 8-July 1, 2012), joining the host nations. The 2010 World Cup champions Spain and runners-up Netherlands joined them four days later, at the same time as the DFB selection and Poland drew 2-2 in a friendly match in Gdansk. Thus the first two in the present FIFA World Ranking qualified for the EURO finals.

“The qualification was outstandingly good”, said German national coach Joachim Loew. Their rivals are impressed, and praise has increased. “The Germans not only convince by fighting but also play on a very high level”, says Spain’s striker David Villa. The German internationals felt ready for this notable achievement nine months prior to the start of the European Championships. “Our goal must be to win the European title”, disclosed Mesut Oezil, who performed brilliantly in his birthplace Gelsenkirchen, scoring two-and-a-half goals.

Referee rules on the “Kloezil” goal

Oezil, who is developing into a world star with Real Madrid, was denied his hat-trick by Miroslav Klose’s minimal ball contact. The compromise of listing the goal for the 1-0 lead as “Kloezil” was not allowed. While Klose explained why the Italian referee Paolo Tagliavento named him the official scorer (“I touched the ball with my ankle”), the former Schalke player was happy with his two remaining goals. “It does not matter to me at all who scores the goals. We have qualified and played a super match as a team”, Oezil emphasised. But once again it is Loew who is cautious. His team would not be the only one at the top; they were just “co-favourites” for the European Championship. Spain, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy would also be on that list. He didn’t name England.

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Mesut Oezil scores to put Germany 2-0 ahead against Austria. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


The quality on the substitutes bench from which Loew can strengthen his team during a match, seems astounding. Lukas Podolski, put under pressure before the game, but in the starting line-up, performed well and scored a goal. The Cologne player observed at each training session that he is being challenged by the fast and ambitious Andre Schuerrle. When sent on as a substitute, the Leverkusen player scored the fourth goal in his seventh international match.  At the end Mario Goetze was also introduced to combine with Oezil for a few minutes, and scored with an elegant volley.

Schweinsteiger: “We must play differently at the European finals“

But it is also a fact that no major tournament will be won with this “hurrah style”. Bastian Schweinsteiger clarified: “We must play differently against stronger teams at the European Championship. Tactics are even more vital then”. Loew is constantly experimenting in defence, stressing the entire team must defend better. This became very clear four days later. Without Schweinsteiger, Oezil and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer the German Football Association, DFB, team travelled to Poland for a friendly in Gdansk, where accommodation for the European Championship next year was fixed.

Loew sent the trio home after the victory over Austria to rest them for the Champions League matches with their clubs. Loew chose a 1B team for the match against the European hosts, making seven changes from the Gelsenkirchen line-up. At the beginning of the second half there were just two players on the pitch who had played during the 6-2 against Austria. “I am really grateful for that match, I am also happy with the result”, said Loew after Stuttgart’s Cacau had prevented a first ever defeat to Poland four minutes into injury time.

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Toni Kroos converts a penalty kick past Poland’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, to make it 1-1 and notch his first international goal. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Poland had led twice through Dortmund’s Lewandowski (55th) and Blaszczykowski (90th/penalty). Toni Kroos (68th) made it 1-1, also from the penalty spot. In added time, Cacau netted a pass from Thomas Mueller in the 94th minute, so preventing a first defeat for Germany in the 17th encounter with Poland. One realisation was that there were phases of great chaos in the defence. Particularly right defender Christian Traesch, for whom Wolfsburg paid 10 million Euros, and Per Mertesacker, for whom Arsenal also paid 10 million, made many mistakes. Even with his best team Loew is still looking for the best defenders. Gdansk made it clear that the second players do not achieve international format, which also held true for Marcel Schmelzer who played in the second half. The defence of the European runners-up is not yet ready by a long way to lift the title.