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Germans arrive at Euro 2012 in confident mood
Germany arrived in Gdansk for Euro 2012 on Monday with key midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger having received a clean bill of health and coach Joachim Loew in a confident mood.
"The longing for a title is as great as ever in all of us. We will do everything to win it," said Loew before his team arrived at their secluded five star hotel.
Germany are based in the Baltic port of Gdansk, Poland, for the duration of Euro 2012, which starts on Friday with the final in Kiev on July 1, with all their Group B games taking place in Ukraine.
The Germans have had minor set backs in their final preparations after a largely second string team suffered a shock 5-3 defeat to Switzerland at the end of May, while midfield star Schweinsteiger has been trying to recover from a calf strain.
The 27-year-old is in a core group of players central to Loew's hopes of bringing home a fourth European crown, having last lifted the title in 1996 after also winning the 1972 and 1980 tournaments.
Schweinsteiger strained his left calf a fortnight ago when Bayern Munich lost the Champions League final 4-3 on penalties to Chelsea as his missed spot-kick in the shoot-out helped the Blues seal victory.
Germany are amongst the pre-tournament favourites and open their campaign in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday against Portugal with Schweinsteiger having been given the green light to play.
"Bastian has no problems, no more pain," German team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt told Munich-based newspaper TZ after Schweinsteiger spent the weekend relaxing in Italy with his model girlfriend Sarah Brandner.
"He will be treated further and we assume he will train with the team for the first time on Monday.
"Of course, he has a bit of catching up to do, but I assume he will be fully fit to face Portugal."
After giving his players the weekend to relax before the three-week long tournament, Loew was upbeat.
"There is no reason not to look forward to these championships," said the 52-year-old, who will be looking to land his first trophy as German coach after taking them to the Euro 2008 final and third at the 2010 World Cup.
"We're ready, we've trained well and we are happy that it's about to start.
"On Friday, we will decide who will play against Portugal with plenty of enthusiasm."
With the quartet of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Goetze, Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, Lazio striker Miroslav Klose and Schweinsteiger all returning from recent injuries, Loew still has a few decisions to make.
Should Schweinsteiger fail to be fit in time, Bayern team-mate Toni Kroos is most likely to partner Real Madrid's Sami Khedira in the defensive midfield role.
As he did in last Thursday's 2-0 friendly win against Israel, captain Philipp Lahm is set to start on the left with his Bayern team-mate Jerome Boateng on the right.
Loew needs to choose between Dortmund's Mats Hummels, Bayern's Holger Badstuber and Mertesacker for the two places available at centre-back.
For the single striker berth, Bayern's Mario Gomez is vying with Lazio veteran Klose, who turns 34 on Saturday, and is just five goals short of Gerd Mueller's all-time record for Germany of 68 in 62 appearances.
Loew has promised his players an intense week of training with Holland and Denmark still to come in Group B after Portugal and several thousand German fans expected to watch Monday evening's training session here.
"We need to be very focused this week, there is still much work ahead of us," said Loew.
Having flown the Germans from Frankfurt to Gdansk in one of Lufthansa's flagship Boeing 747-8s, pilot Peter Haenzel said he hoped he could also fly them home as European champions.
"I hope that I will be allowed to fly them home on July 2 after the final in Kiev," he said as part of his onboard announcement.
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