Germany open against 2016 winners Brazil in a highlight of the opening matchday
Captain during qualifying, Arne Maier is a team-mate of Brazil's Matheus Cunha
"The chemistry is right, and everyone’s there for each other – you’ll see that"
Brazil and Germany gets pulses racing among football fans the world over, regardless of the tournament. This is especially true these days after some spectacular recent showdowns between these two behemoths of the game – such as that astonishing semi-final at the FIFA World Cup™ in 2014, or the final of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament two years later, when A Seleção took gold in front of their own fans in Rio. The latest instalment in the rivalry takes place this evening at the Tokyo Olympics in Yokohama, where, incidentally, Brazil were crowned world champions in 2002 at the expense of the Mannschaft. "Thursday’s clash with Brazil is what you’d call starting with a bang," said Germany's Arne Maier on Tuesday. The 22-year-old midfielder captained Germany’s U-21s to a somewhat unexpected European Championship title only a few weeks ago, and the core of that team have travelled to Tokyo. "We’ve known each other for many years.
"The chemistry is right, and everyone’s there for each other – you’ll see that on Thursday. We’ll play as a unit, as only that way can we succeed. Right now, everyone’s looking forward to the tournament."
"We’re a good side that should not be underestimated, even if we need more work on doing things automatically," continued Maier, who accepts that their opening-game opponents have, in the likes of Dani Alves and Richarlison, the bigger names. "They’re a very good team with top players, many of whom play abroad. In fact, I currently play with Matheus Cunha at Hertha BSC." Although the pair share a hotel in Yokohama, where all four Group D sides are staying, the two club-mates have not yet crossed paths. "Each team has its own floor, so you respect that."
Asked how they planned to deal with the South Americans, the midfielder replied: "We know that they can sometimes step off the gas or become less effective in challenges when their opponents put up some resistance, which we’ll do on Thursday. If every one of us is fired up for the game, we can shape our own success. " With three overage players – Max Kruse, Maximilian Arnold and Nadiem Amiri – included in the squad, it could take time for everyone to be fully familiarized, especially with the short preparation period. In spite of that, Maier insisted we would see "a German team that is young and audacious, and which gets a lot of joy from playing while still being consistent in the duels."
Although the Tokyo Games are taking place in extraordinary circumstances, the Olympic feeling was very much in evidence when "Team Germany" visited the Olympic Village on Tuesday and met numerous athletes from other sports at ‘Germany House’. We could also see athletes from other nations in the dining area. "That was a great experience for all of us," added Maier, whose eyes visibly lit up when recalling the visit. "If we top our group, we get to move into the Olympic Village, so that’s our goal!" With an incentive like that, you would not bet against more memorable moments in the latest Germany-Brazil showdown on Thursday.