After reaching the latter stages of the last two major tournaments, Holger Badstuber says Germany can go all the way at UEFA EURO 2012, telling UEFA.com: "It's about time we won it."
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Though still only 22 years of age Holger Badstuber has achieved a great deal in his short career. The FC Bayern München defender already has Bundesliga and German Cup winners' medals to his name, has played at the FIFA World Cup and even appeared in a UEFA Champions League final.
The former SSV Ulm player is a typical example of Joachim Löw's bright, zestful Germany – a confident, dynamic squad which is preparing for back-to-back away matches against Austria and Azerbaijan on 3 and 7 June, having won all five UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying matches to date. This run and recent performances at major finals suggests that Germany are well placed to reach next summers' tournament and, as Badstuber told UEFA.com, triumph in Poland and Ukraine.
UEFA.com: Do you think your UEFA Champions League experiences have helped you to earn a place in the national team?
Holger Badstuber: Yes, of course it is an advantage if you are playing in the Champions League, because that is where you can show your real potential, and you are measured against the best. If you play well that can convince the coach to call you up to the national team; that helped me. I was invited to go to the World Cup, which was the icing on the cake of last season for me, having played a fantastic season with Bayern. So it was all really nice.
UEFA.com: The German national team is very young, but it has grown together. You are all friends. How important is it that you have all known each other for so long already?
Badstuber: The team is pretty young, but the team has already gathered a lot of experiences for their age, because they have already played in the Champions League and won titles. So they managed to show great qualities at difficult moments. Within the team the atmosphere is great, the players understand each other very well, have respect within the team, and that works very well on the pitch. As a result you could see the achievements at the World Cup. I think the football played in the national team has changed over the last few years. We have played some excellent football, and we want to keep on doing that and improve it. We have the right coach who can do it with us.
UEFA.com: So far it is all working well. Germany have won five out of five UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying matches. What do you make of these results?
Badstuber: It's great that we have won all of our matches so far, got good results and given good performances, and that is how it should continue. I think we shouldn't look too much at our opponents, but more at ourselves. We know about our qualities, and we all want to improve together from match to match. The coach certainly wants that as well; he is a perfectionist. He gives the right training and the right exercises for the short time period that we come together to get the results on the pitch.
UEFA.com: What do you expect from your away matches against Austria and Azerbaijan in June?
Badstuber: I think that playing in Vienna against Austria will be a hot encounter. They are highly motivated to play against Germany and get points, but we should stay calm. We know our qualities and if we play well then we have a pretty good chance to win there. Azerbaijan have shown they can cause problems for the bigger nations, with their victory against Turkey. So it will be difficult to win there, but I think the team will be very motivated and focused, and win there.
UEFA.com: At the last FIFA World Cup and at UEFA EURO 2008 you lost narrowly on both occasions against Spain, but Germany are clearly on the upward curve. Do you think the gap between Germany and Spain is closing?
Badstuber: Yes, I think the gap is definitely closing. In the last semi-final we proved that we have a chance against them. For me they are still the best nation at the moment, but we came close at the World Cup. They are our big rivals, and we want to be able to beat them next time we face them.
UEFA.com: You have almost qualified for the next UEFA EURO. What are your expectations for Germany at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine?
Badstuber: We want to win the title. We only just missed out in the last two tournaments, reaching the final once and the semi-final once, and now it's about time we won. But it's still a long way away, there are lots of tough opponents to play, and you need to be at your optimum fitness at the right time. You need to give everything at tournaments like that and we will try to do that at the next EURO.