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Group A: Germany v Serbia preview

Germany's Horst Hrubesch has an embarrassment of riches to choose from for Wednesday's opener against Serbia, whose coach Mladen Dodić thinks his side thrive under pressure.

Germany coach Horst Hrubesch addresses the media on Tuesday
Germany coach Horst Hrubesch addresses the media on Tuesday ©Sportsfile

Germany take on Serbia at Letná Stadium on the opening day of action
Germany under charge of Horst Hrubesch, who guided them to U21 glory in 2009
Hrubesch: "I know I can rely on every single one of my players"
Serbia coach Mladen Dodić: "We're best when we play the strongest opponents"
Serbia without stars such as Lazar Marković, Aleksandar Mitrović and Matija Nastasić

Qualifying campaign (including play-off)
Germany: P10 W8 D2 L0 F30 A5 (Group 6 winners)
Qualifying top scorer: Philipp Hofmann (7)

Serbia: P10 W6 D2 L2 F20 A11 (Group 9 runners-up)
Qualifying top scorer: Aleksandar Mitrović (4)

Form guide (including friendlies, most recent first)
Germany: LDDWW
Serbia: WLWDW

Possible lineups
Germany: Ter Stegen; Korb, Ginter, Knoche, Schulz; Geis, Can; Meyer, Malli, Younes; Volland

Serbia: Dmitrović; Petković, Pantić, Spajić, Petrović; Brašanac, Čaušić; Jojić, Djuričić, Milunović; Pešić

Horst Hrubesch, Germany coach
It's always good to start with victory at any tournament as it makes life a lot easier. However, we will take it step by step, one game at a time. Every team in this tournament have the ability to win it and are therefore playing for the title. Just look at how Serbia beat the reigning champions Spain in the play-offs. Denmark, too, are a very compact and difficult team to face; sometimes they might be underestimated.

We had 33 players competing in all the games it took to get here to Prague, so picking 11 is always a difficult decision to make, but I know I can rely on every single one of them. The players already know who will be in goal; we have three keepers who, in the long run, will be world class. It makes little sense to field 11 keepers or 11 individualists; we're approaching this as a team. Let us be clear, these players are all professionals and they know how to handle these things.

I've known some of the players in the squad for four or five years and I've seen them progress [through U17s and U19s], relying on each other. I've stuck with my players. It's not only about football, but also about living together throughout the tournament – I know I can rely on every player I have.

Mladen Dodić, Serbia coach
We've been very positive and we've concentrated on things we can influence. Some things happen and we have to accept them – for example, some players eligible for this team are not available. However, I remind you that lots of these players eliminated Spain in the play-offs. I believe that we will be ready to qualify for the semi-finals.

I'm optimistic because this group of players proved to me in qualifying that they can do whatever they want, as long as they are ready and motivated. We showed a lot of good things in qualifying. We also showed our mentality and our character, bouncing back from defeats. That is who we are at the moment, but my opinion is that we are at our best when we play against the strongest opponents. Everyone says Germany are tournament favourites, so this is why I am optimistic.

Serbia beat Spain in the play-offs
Serbia beat Spain in the play-offs©Getty Images

In my opinion, Germany are the team with the most individual quality, but they also look strong as a group. However, during some of their recent friendlies they did show some weaknesses which we will probably look to exploit.

The success of our team in New Zealand [reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup] is not a burden, but an inspiration. We need a positive force to push the whole of Serbian football forward. I believe that Serbian football will be better tomorrow than it was yesterday.

Senior internationals in squad
Germany: Matthias Ginter (5), Marc-André ter Stegen (4), Kevin Volland (3), Christian Günter (1), Maximilian Arnold (1), Max Meyer (1)

Serbia: Filip Djuričić (21), Miloš Jojić (5), Srdjan Mijailović (5)

Match fact
• These two teams also met on the opening day of the 2007 final tournament, a 1-0 win for Germany in Barcelos, Portugal. How many of the players from that game do you recognise? Check out the lineups and plenty more in our extensive match background.