Belief can take a team a long way and for Germany captain Sami Khedira that means nothing short of winning the European U21 title. "We all believe everything is possible," the 22-year-old said.
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Belief can take a team a long way and for Germany captain Sami Khedira that means nothing short of winning the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
The 22-year-old central midfielder is expected to return for Monday's showpiece meeting with England after missing the semi-final against Italy through injury. Watching from the sidelines he was impressed by how his side withstood a barrage of Azzurrini pressure before Andreas Beck's strike sealed victory. Germany's tenacity was also a hallmark of their qualifying campaign – they needed a last-minute goal to beat France in the play-off – and it is a trait key to their quest for a first U21 title.
"We have the desire and the confidence that we can win every big game," he said. "We believe everything is possible. Things did not go well against Italy in the first half and we could have gone behind, but we always knew we could beat them." Khedira praises coach Horst Hrubesch for instilling that spirit. "He often asks me as captain, and the other leading players, for advice. Because of that we all pull in the same direction and decide what's best for the team. He listens to our opinions but has the final say. He speaks with the players a lot, especially those who haven't played. He tries to motivate them and keep them in a good mood which is very important."
Happy campers Germany certainly are. Hrubesch's side may not have caught the eye in the manner of hosts Sweden, but like the senior team they have been stunningly effective at tournament play. "Of course we can play better, but we have to look at what players are available and the team's strengths," Khedira said. "Our strength lies in defence. We stay very compact, so in attack we're perhaps not so outstanding, but we still have individuals who can decide a game."
Khedira can be just such a match-winner. In his first season with VfB Stuttgart, 2006/07, he scored the goal that decided the Bundesliga championship in their favour. He will have a pivotal role to play in Malmo. While England are likely to field a much-changed side from the one that drew 1-1 with Germany in the teams' final group match, Khedira expects a similar game. "They will still play good football and be very strong at set-pieces – their most lethal weapon. We have to learn from the game against them, play intelligently and stop them getting scoring chances. If we solve those problems, we'll cancel out their biggest strength." This is a chance Khedira is determined not to miss. "I don't know how many times I'll get the opportunity to play in an international final. We've shown we can win this tournament. Now we're in the final and have a big chance of taking home the trophy."