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Holders Germany taking it easy ahead of opener

Published: Tuesday 9 July 2013, 19.04CET
There is no sign of opening-night nerves among the Germany squad – favourites to triumph at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 – ahead of their first group game on Thursday.
by Ian Holyman & Markus Juchem
from Vaxjo
Holders Germany taking it easy ahead of opener
Reigning champions Germany are in a positive mood ©Getty Images
 

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Published: Tuesday 9 July 2013, 19.04CET

Holders Germany taking it easy ahead of opener

There is no sign of opening-night nerves among the Germany squad – favourites to triumph at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 – ahead of their first group game on Thursday.

Germany begin their challenge for what would be a sixth successive continental crown against the Netherlands on Thursday, but the mood could not be more relaxed in the team hotel, where most of the football being played is on-screen.

"There are some who play table tennis or table football. I prefer the PlayStation," FC Bayern München attacking midfielder Lena Lotzen told the media in Vaxjo. "We've set up a kind of tournament and there are often five or six of us who play in the evening or have a few games at lunchtime. It's quite good to take your mind off things. Dzsenifer Marozsán and Isabelle Linden are good going forward, but they also have serious rivals in Leonie Maier and Nadine Kessler."

"We've got a lot of free time and have already been to have a look around the town," said veteran goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who opts for more old-school pursuits to fill her wait before the Group B opener. "Sometimes I watch the youngsters on the PlayStation, but I don't play with them. I prefer table tennis."

The senior member and most-capped player in the squad, Angerer is used to what could be an anxious wait, during which time butterflies can take hold. With four European titles and two global crowns among her honours, the Germany captain's relaxed aura is rubbing off on her younger team-mates, many of whom have stepped into the void left by injuries to six key players including Kim Kulig and Viola Odebrecht.

"Nadine's laid-back approach helps and shows that not everything needs to be taken seriously," laughed 19-year-old Lotzen, who won the first of her ten caps in February last year. "The older players try to help us and give us advice, because for many players this is their first major tournament and many are still young. We have a good blend in the team."

The atmosphere within the squad is positive, which is perhaps hardly surprising given the impressive manner in which the holders strode majestically into the finals, triumphing in all but one of their ten qualifiers en route to Sweden. The only stumble came in a 2-2 draw with fellow finalists Spain, but with Silvia Neid's side having conceded only one other goal, and struck a mammoth 64 at the opposite end, the coaching staff consider the squad to have earned some time to unwind before the serious business begins.

"We're training with the motto 'Less is more' in mind," said assistant coach Ulrike Ballweg, who now takes the players through their paces once a day rather than the two or even three daily sessions planned earlier in the month-long build-up to the finals. "Our aim is for the players to be fresh and hungry. We haven't organised every minute for them."

Last updated: 09/07/13 21.07CET

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