CHAMPIONSHIP COUNTDOWN: No 4 Germany; Vogts is a favourite at last

If you wanted an international side to play for your life you would think carefully about the Dutch, then choose the Germans. They are the time and motion man's dream team, maximising while others disappoint. They qualify for every major tournament and usually reach or get close to the final.

Their preparation for Euro 96 is typical. In all probability they will have only one chance of playing under the Twin Towers, in the final, but they have still laid a pitch of Wembley dimensions and turf in the grounds of their Cheshire hotel. You suspect it will not be in vain.

After the relative failure of the last World Cup, when they were beaten in the quarter- finals by Bulgaria, the Germans have staged a typically robust comeback, winning eight of their 10 qualifying matches. They have since also defeated fellow finalists Portugal and the Netherlands away from home in friendlies.

Even the coach, Berti Vogts ("if I walked on water my accusers would say it's because I can't swim"), has shaken off his critics and, after the final qualifying game against the Bulgarians, was afforded a standing ovation from 75,000 fans in Berlin's Olympic stadium. If Vogts, who has had more calls for his resignation than John Major, is popular, then the rest of Europe must look out.

"I feel confident this German team can win the European Championship," Franz Beckenbauer, one of four of Vogts' immediate predecessors who have won either world or European titles, said. "The form they showed against the Bulgarians proved it."

Not that Vogts is entirely without selection problems, which have centred on his strikers. Tottenham's former talisman, Jurgen Klinsmann, once he has served a one-match suspension, is a certainty after scoring nine goals in the qualifying games but finding a partner has proved more of a problem.

Karlheinz Riedle and Heiko Herrlich have not fully recovered from injury while Fredi Bobic has a suspect knee, Ulf Kirsten has lost form and Stefan Kuntz has looked a lesser player since moving to Besikstas in Turkey. In desperation, Vogts turned to the neglected talent of Oliver Bierhoff.

Never fully appreciated in the Bundesliga, Bierhoff has prospered since moving to Italy's Udinese via Salzburg and is the only German left in Serie A. First capped against the Portuguese in February, he scored both goals in a friendly against the European Championship holders, Denmark, and seems to have cemented a place.

Vogts' other dilemma is the position of sweeper, which would normally be in the possession of Lothar Matthaus, the World Cup winning captain in 1990. A ruptured Achilles tendon cost him his place in the national team, which was not regained despite some storming performances as leader and sweeper of the Uefa Cup winners, Bayern Munich.

In his place has come Matthias Sammer, the first East German to play for the unified national team in 1990 and now, Klinsmann and Thomas Hassler not withstanding, possibly the most influential member of it.

Player to watch

Matthias Sammer

(Borussia Dortmund)

Wales pinpointed Sammer as a potential weakness, his eagerness to push forward sometimes leaving gaps. Instead, he dominated their qualifier in Cardiff, firing more shots at Neville Southall in 90 minutes than an English sweeper would contemplate in a career. A player, as the advert goes, for those who prefer silk.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers

Andreas Kopke Eintracht Frankfurt

Oliver Kahn Bayern Munich

Oliver Reck Werder Bremen

Defenders

Markus Babbel Bayern Munich

Thomas Helmer Bayern Munich

Jurgen Kohler Borussia Dortmund

Stefan Reuter Borussia Dortmund

Matthias Sammer Borussia Dortmund

Rene Schneider Hansa Rostock

Midfielders

Mario Basler Werder Bremen

Marco Bode Werder Bremen

Dieter Eilts Werder Bremen

Steffen Freund Borussia Dortmund

Thomas Hassler Karlsruhe

Andreas Moller Borussia Dortmund

Mehmet Scholl Bayern Munich

Thomas Strunz Bayern Munich

Christian Ziege Bayern Munich

Forwards

Oliver Bierhoff Udinese

Fredi Bobic VfB Stuttgart

Jurgen Klinsmann Bayern Munich

Stefan Kuntz Besiktas

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...