Podolski sets sights on EURO success
Forward Lukas Podolski is targeting UEFA EURO 2012 glory after another display of strength from his Germany side in their 3-1 win over Turkey at the weekend. That success was Germany's ninth in nine qualifying matches and they can complete a full house by beating Belgium in Dusseldorf on Tuesday.
And Cologne forward Podolski, a key part of the squad, has never felt so much potential in the national team as he does now. "This is definitely the strongest national team I have played in," he told sport1.de. "Our aim is to win the European Championships title next year and we have the quality to do that. And we want to do it after coming so close in recent tournaments."
Podolski has also vowed to keep the concentration high for Germany's final group game on Tuesday night as they look to beat Belgium to qualify in style. Such a result would do a favour to Turkey, who dropped to third behind the Belgians on Friday night and need Germany to at least get a draw on Tuesday to enable them to move back up to second with a win over Azerbaijan.
However, Belgium could benefit if Germany are no longer fully focused by clinching second spot with a win in Dusseldorf. Podolski says he is not even considering who will finish second in the group, though. "We are only looking at ourselves and not who can come second," he added. "Our aim is ten wins from ten games. We want to win. We have developed a lot in recent years and we are very consistent and stable. That is why we win such games so clearly."
For goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has conceded only one goal in eight Bundesliga for Bayern Munich matches this campaign, success in one team has gone hand in hand with the other. "The national team has never boasted so much quality. We're solid at every position, and that goes for the substitutes bench as well," he said in Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "In both teams, the confidence is flying. When you win matches it makes you even stronger, and that strengthens my optimism for the near future."
Despite Germany's spotless qualifying campaign, Neuer says Joachim Low's side have to stay hungry if they are to be seen as a formidable force at the tournament next year. "We don't want to show any weaknesses, and we want to keep our qualifying run as flawless as possible," he said. "The smallest display of weakness could have implications for us at the UEFA EURO 2012, and we can't allow that."
Low has also released Mario Gotze for the game with Belgium. The 19-yaer-old today returned to his club Borussia Dortmund with Low informing his club coach Jurgen Klopp that he felt the player needed a break in view of his upcoming duties in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. His place in the squad will be taken by his Dortmund team mate Ilkay Gundogan.