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Steffen Freund: Germany are still my dark horses!

In his second EURO 2020 column, Steffen Freund discusses his expectations for the game against Portugal and explains why Germany remain title contenders.

Steffen Freund thinks Thomas Müller has the goal instinct Germany need
Steffen Freund thinks Thomas Müller has the goal instinct Germany need

I'll start by saying this: Germany are still my dark horses! I know how these tournaments can go, and we've lost the opener against the favourites. Yes, we lost, but we weren't far away.

Overall, it was a decent performance against France – who are the world champions, after all. Germany had spells where they caused the opposition a lot of problems and made the France defence work really hard. At the same time, the end product was missing; I only saw two goalscoring chances.

Classic Klinsmann EURO '96 strike

One reason for that is Germany's lack of a true out-and-out centre-forward, such as Miroslav Klose, Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudi Völler or Gerd Müller. That's one of the reasons why Thomas Müller has returned to the squad. I miss that killer instinct in front of goal, so that's why I've said we should play Müller in that role – simply because he is the one who needs the fewest chances to score.

With my coaching head on, I'd line up with a back four against Portugal, because when you're facing a team like Portugal who play with three forwards, it allows you an extra man in midfield, especially when you're under pressure. That would also free up Joshua Kimmich to play in midfield. That's the most important thing: Kimmich belongs in midfield!

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This next game is key. Against Portugal, you have to have the belief that we can achieve something at this tournament. When I look at the Portuguese squad, I don't see any weaknesses. Individually, they have a stronger side than at the last European Championship – just look at someone like André Silva, who just scored 28 goals in the Bundesliga for Frankfurt and can only get a place on the bench!

Rúben Dias is one of Portugal's key defenders
Rúben Dias is one of Portugal's key defenders UEFA via Getty Images

Rúben Dias holds the defence together, and Dortmund's Raphaël Guerreiro is one of the best left-backs in the world at the moment. Last time out, Diogo Jota played in attack, but João Félix is also an incredible forward. Simply put, they have a lot of options and, in Bruno Fernandes, a No10 behind who can supply the strikers.

However, I also watched Portugal's game against Hungary and, for 80 minutes, they had problems creating chances against the Hungarian defence. They weren't fully able to break through and there wasn't much to be seen of Ronaldo for much of the game. However, that is also one of his strengths – at some point in the game he will have his moments; you can never fully cancel him out.

Neuer on Ronaldo and Portugal test

Despite that, I'm still convinced that if Germany deliver a performance matching the same levels of heart and passion they showed against France, and if they are more clinical in front of goal and better in transitions in both defence and attack, they will win the game. The home advantage in Munich will also play a role now that fans are back in the stadium. I'm going for a 2-1 Germany win.

If Germany want to go far in this tournament, they need a win now against Portugal!

Who needs what?