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Poland

coach Leo Beenhakker believes his team are ready to create history when they make their bow in the European Championship finals against Germany, in Klagenfurt on Sunday.

The Dutch coach is confident ahead of the Group B encounter, despite the fact that Poland have never before qualified for the European Championships, nor beaten today’s opponents in any of their previous 15 meetings.

They two side last faced each other at the 2006 World Cup – when Beenhakker was coaching Trinidad & Tobago – and Germany prevailed in an absorbing encounter, courtesy of substitute Oliver Neuville’s stoppage time winner.

“I know that we have never won against Germany, but what we can also say about history is that the two teams have never met each other in this tournament,” said Beenhakker.

“We know that in 1996 Germany were champions, but since then they have not won any matches at all in the Euro finals. We’re talking about history, and I did my homework.”

“We will have our usual preparation, like we did for the qualifying matches,” the coach added.” We won’t be doing different things just because we are at the Euros now, and it’s not like we will walk around the park naked or something.

“We have our normal programme – and then we will go [singing] tra-la-la to the stadium. We will play ‘tra-la-la’ but I don’t know if we will be still ‘tra-la-la’ after the game.”

Beenhakker will be unable to call upon the services of Jakub Blaszczykowski and keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, both of whom are already ruled out of the tournament.

Goalkeeper Kuszczak was ruled out with a back injury on Friday and replaced by Wojciech Kowalewski, while winger Blaszczykowski suffered a hamstring strain that forced him to withdraw from the squad.

Poland ‘much stronger’
Germany coach Joachim Löw was assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann when the teams met at the World Cup, and believes the Poles have improved a lot in the intervening period.

“Compared to 2006, Poland today have a much stronger team,” said Löw of opponents who qualified ahead of Portugal as Group A winners.

“They have improved and they played extraordinarily well during the qualifying round. I was impressed with how strong they are and how adventurous they are. They play a very consistent game. When it comes to their compactness, desire and will to win, I think they are outstanding.”

Löw, who has no inury concerns, added: “We know about the strengths of the Polish team, but I believe that if we can implement what we know and, if we can dictate the pace on the pitch, we will be able to play and do so quite daringly.”

Low to choose who will lead their attack, with Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski battling it out for the right to partner Mario Gomez. However, the coach may decide to switch Podolski to the left-hand side of midfield to accomodate Klose up front.

Low appeared unconcerned by any selection dilemmas, adding that he will sleep easily in his “comfortable bed” at the squad’s hotel before picking his team.

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