Low: Germany are favourites

GERMAN coach Joachim Low is confident his side will qualify for Euro 2012, even though they find themselves in one of the most competitive groups after yesterday’s draw in Warsaw.

The Euro 2008 runners-up will face Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Belgium and Austria in Group A.

“Logistically it is not quite so simple with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan,” Low, whose future is the subject of debate, said.

“Otherwise it is a German-speaking group with many German coaches. Obviously Germany will be favourites along with Turkey.”

Azerbaijan are coached by Berti Vogts, the man who led Germany to their last major success at Euro ‘96, while Kazakhstan boss Bernd Storck is also German.

“We are happy with the draw,” said Vogts. “We will earn a lot of money from the games against Germany so we will be able to build new stadia and invest in youth development.

“We are once again looking forward to facing the mighty Germany, who we can learn a lot from.”

Storck added: “It will be a special highlight for us and particularly for me to play against Germany.”

Meanwhile, Austria coach Dietmar Constantini is looking forward to the alpine battles with Low’s side.

“It is a terribly hard group for us with Germany and Turkey as the favourites,” he said. “The matches between Austria and Germany have a particular attraction to them and we know that from the past.”

Holland coach Bert van Marwijk is also optimistic about his team’s chance of progression, although he has put all thoughts of European qualifying on hold until this summer’s World Cup is out of the way. Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova and San Marino await Oranje in Group E.

“It is difficult to look that far ahead, qualifying for the European Championships starts in just over six months,” he said. “First we have a World Cup to attend. Having said that, it’s good we’ll take on Erwin Koeman’s Hungary which gives those games an added touch.

“Finland, Sweden and Hungary are the more famous footballing countries, while Moldova and San Marino, on paper at least, are ‘lesser’ opponents. But you cannot underestimate any opponent.”

World champions Italy take on Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia and Faroe Islands in Group C ––a draw which has been welcomed by coach Marcello Lippi.

“Italy have a balanced group with Serbia and Slovenia, both of which will compete in the World Cup,” he said.

“There is also the benefit of being in a group of six teams. Other groups are more difficult, like that of England.”

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was keen not to underestimate the threat posed by the defending champions’ Group I opponents – 1996 runners-up Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein.

Del Bosque, who took over from Luis Aragones following Spain’s success at Euro 2008, said: “It’s true that they are teams who will not be going to the World Cup, but we cannot be overconfident.

“Our opponents are difficult; these days in football the differences (between teams) are getting smaller all the time.

“There are teams who improve in every competition.

“Liechtenstein seem the easiest, but we have to be very careful with the other three opponents.”

He added: “We are obliged to have a good qualification campaign so we can try and defend the title we won in 2008.

“I’m sure that it will be difficult – it’s not going to be a stroll.”

Del Bosque admits though that his thoughts are currently more focused on this summer, where the Spanish will hope to add a first World Cup crown to their European title.

“For now the first thought is to concentrate on the World Cup,” he said. “From September our minds will be on qualifying that will be time to weigh up our opponents.”


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