Many people's favourites to lift the trophy, Germany go into these finals with momentum, having sailed through qualifying with five wins from six matches and conceded just one goal. Coach Stefan Böger refuses to get ahead of himself, however, and has urged his charges to take things "game by game", starting with their Group A opener against surprise qualifiers Georgia.
UEFA.com: What are your aims for the finals? How do you rate your team's chances?
Stefan Böger: We know that we are a good side. If we prepare ourselves well, we are optimistic of being successful. If we are not well prepared, it will be difficult to hit our targets. We would be best served just taking things game by game.
UEFA.com: The German Football Association's (DFB) philosophy has always been to publicly aim for the title in such a tournament. Does this not go for your team as well?
Böger: You can, of course, have lofty ambitions and make them public beforehand, but you can also choose another path, to prepare for matches one by one. We have done well with this strategy and I see no reason to change it.
UEFA.com: You have mentioned the necessity of being well prepared. What do you mean?
Böger: Well, the boys still have two games left for their respective club teams and we hope they will not suffer any injuries. They need to bring the necessary fitness, which is the absolute foundation for success. Then we need to work on tactical fine-tuning, with groups for certain positions. There is only so much you can do for the finals now – what we have not done in the past months, we cannot do in these few days. We have laid the foundation in the 25 matches with this age group.
UEFA.com: Since taking over in August 2010, you have won 24 matches and drawn one – against Portugal. Do you have cornerstones in this team?
Böger: Of the core of 18 to 22 players, roughly half have been with us the whole time. We have swapped the others periodically and changed them, which has proven a good strategy. We now have a mixture of players who have performed well and have become indispensable.
UEFA.com: That record of 25 matches without a defeat is incredible. How much of a boost is that for the finals?
Böger: Of course, we have enjoyed this streak, but now the players have to get it into their heads that the match against Georgia is the only thing that matters.
UEFA.com: In 15 matches in 2011/12, your team has conceded just three times. What is the foundation for such defensive steeliness?
Böger: Not conceding is not only part of the DFB philosophy but also my own. The whole team's defending is the basis for the good record. We also have really good individuals who are always capable of scoring. You always have a chance to win a game if you defend well.
UEFA.com: Who are the key players in your squad?
Böger: There is Leon Goretzka, who is an extension of me on the pitch. He is the playmaker, dictating when we play quick and when we take our foot off the pedal. He has technical ability as well as vision and a strategic overview; he leads the way and the others follow.
We have found a good spine in Niklas Süle and Marian Sarr in central defence, Goretzka and Max Meyer in midfield and our scorer Said Benkarit in attack. If they play in harmony we do well, but we have to be careful not to put everything on their shoulders – we have to ensure others also take on responsibility.
UEFA.com: The system you prefer to use is a 4-2-3-1, correct?
Böger: Yes, usually we play with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but we are flexible enough to swap to 4-4-2 during a match.
UEFA.com: How do you rate your Group A opponents?
Böger: One thing is for sure – at this level there are no secrets. Every team knows about the others because opponents are being analysed deeply. But I warn everyone not to underestimate any team, even in the slightest. All went a long way through qualification, asserting themselves against big names, and that says enough about their quality. You also have to avoid comparing senior international football with youth football.
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