Monday, June 24, 2024

Tension rises between rival fans despite soft words

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, European Championships 7 Jun 2008


While the sleepy south Austrian city of Klagenfurt braces itself for 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 on rival groups of fans drinking in the city centre on Saturday afternoon.

But while every precaution is being taken to avoid trouble between the two groups of fans who have a history of violence, at the city's Woerthersee Stadium, Germany coach Joachim Loew was gushing with praise for his opposite number despite last week's tabloid tension.

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

Both sides moved quickly to distance themselves from the controversy and made a point of downplaying any tension.

And when asked if there was anything he could learn from the vastly experienced Dutchman, Loew, who revealed nothing about his own team selection or tactics, rushed to praise 65-year-old 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.

In fact the only strong language Loew used was to talk up his side's opponents on Sunday Evening in what he expects will be a tough match.

“They have evolved since the 2006 World Cup,” said Loew after Germany managed a late 1-0 win over Poland in the group stages.

“They were very strong in Euro 2008 qualification and finished above Portugal which is no mean feat,” said Loew.

“I watched a few of their videos and was impressed with their 2-2 draw in Portugal last year.

“I was impressed how daring they were, the team plays a very compact game and they play an offensive game, when it comes to their fighting spirit, stamina and power, they are an oustanding side.”

Loew said he will reveal the starting team to his squad on Sunday morning.

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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