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Beenhakker apologises to Loew over gruesome image

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, European Championships 7 Jun 2008

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While the sleepy south Austrian city of Klagenfurt braces itself for potential trouble ahead of Sunday's Euro 2008 Group B clash between neighbours Germany and Poland, peace has broken out between the rival camps.

The police presence here in the pretty Alpine city is clearly visible with armed officers from Austria, Germany and Poland keeping a watchful eye as rival groups of fans drank in the city centre on Saturday afternoon.

Every precaution is being taken to avoid trouble between the two groups of fans who have a history of violence with a tight control on security.

But over at the city's Woerthersee Stadium, Poland boss Leo Beenhakker met with Germany coach Joachim Loew to bury the hatchet after last week's tabloid tension.

On Wednesday, Polish newspaper Super Express printed a grisly modified picture of Beenhakker brandishing the severed heads of Loew and Germany captain Michael Ballack.

Both camps distanced themselves from the controversy and Beenhakker sought out Loew after the Germany team trained here on Saturday to apologise in person for the image.

“I met Joachim here after training and offered my apology for what had happened in certain parts of the media,” said Beenhakker, who had described the gruesome picture as “sick”.

“He said he knew we were not involved in any way and that no apology was needed from the Polish team.”

Violent clashes between Germany and Poland fans in Klagenfurt on Sunday would be the Euro 2008 organisers worst nightmare, but Beenhakker said both sets of fans and media should concentrate solely on the football.

“Everyone has been living with this match in different ways,” said the 65-year-old Dutchman.

“We saw a bad example last week, let's just bring it back to football.

“I know the consequences of winning and losing a match like this in a country's social psychology and the consequences can be far reaching.

“Holland are totally orange, Poland are red and white, Germany are black, red and gold.

“We just have to do our best for the team, concentrate on football and separate ourselves from the rest.”

Earlier Loew, who revealed nothing about his own team selection or tactics, had rushed to praise Beenhakker.

“Leo has worked with a number of very good clubs and as a national coach he brings a certain style to each team he coaches,” said Loew of the former Real Madrid and Netherlands coach.

“The last time we met was in Vienna, we exchanged views and I learnt a lot from him he is a very nice and able colleague.”

But despite the outbreak of peace, under the surface both sides are desperate for a win.

Germany need to break their 12-game drought without a Euro victory having returned winless from the European Championships of 2000 and 2004, while Poland want to prove themselves at their first European Championships.

History favours the Germans – in 15 meetings between the two sides since 1933, Poland have yet to record a win with four draws between the sides while Germany have claimed 11 wins.

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