In the latest of a series of interviews ahead of Euro 2008, Austria and Werder Bremen striker Martin Harnik talks about playing Germany in Group B and whether his Bundesliga experience will be an advantage.
Martin Harnik hopes to use his Bundesliga experience to undo Germany at Euro 2008
Harnik started training with Werder Bremen's professional squad in the 2006/07 season after a spell with the club's amateurs in the German lower leagues. He signed a professional contract with the club at the start of the 2007/08 season and played eight senior games in the Bundesliga, scoring one goal. He was called up to the senior Austrian squad in 2007 after two years with his country's youth teams.
DW-WORLD.DE: Martin Harnik, you are, as an Austrian, one of the hosts of the European Championship. What do you expect this summer?
Martin Harnik: After the World Cup in Germany two years ago, everyone expects a lot from this event. We want, of course, to be a very good host and hope for some very good games.
Will the atmosphere be as unbelievable at Euro 2008 in Austria as it was at the 2006 World Cup in Germany?
This is hard to say of course because first: this is a European Championship and not a World Cup, and secondly: the European Championship is shared between Switzerland and Austria. So, I think the mood will not be as extreme as it was in Germany.
You've played in Germany with Werder Bremen for a few years now. Is your experience as a Bundesliga player important for your national team?
Harnik (arms raised) celebrates his first Bremen goal
Yes. To play with Werder Bremen is an advantage because we play very fast soccer and always try in training to play a very direct game. So, I hope I bring that tempo to the national team. Also, I am 20 years old and I can still learn a lot from the players of the national team.
You know the German players and German soccer quite well. Is this situation an advantage for you?
Yes, clearly it is an advantage if one knows the opponents even better than others. But I think before Euro 2008, we will analyze every opponent in detail, over and over again, then each of our players will know exactly every opposing player. It is an advantage for me, but also one my colleagues on the national team can benefit from.
The friendly game against group rival Germany in February resulted in defeat for Austria. Could things be different at the European Championships?
Germany beat Austria 3-0 in Vienna in February this year
We hope of course that we can do better at Euro 2008. But even though we lost, on the whole we can be content with that game against the Germans, because in the first half we played strongly and actually controlled the game. Only the goals were missing. We have a few games coming up and so I think we can go into the tournament and perform much better.
The game in February was just a friendly. However, the next time you play Germany on June 16, the outcome will be very important for both teams. How do you think it will go?
Of course there are two other very important tournament games but the best situation would be that when we play Germany, both teams will be through to the next round. Regardless of this, the game will of course be a highlight and as I said, I think we will be much better and we should perform better. I think we will do this.
Which is your most dangerous opponent in the group: Poland, Croatia or Germany?
These are all very strong opponents, but none of them are guaranteed to qualify for the next round. The three games will be very hard because every team wants to win and every team is there to advance. We have the advantage of being at home at the championships and we will of course want to get through the group to the quarter-finals.
How far do you think Austria will go in the tournament?
I hope, at least, as far as the quarter-final. That for us would be a great achievement.
What does Austria want to achieve as the host?
If we are as successful as the Germans in 2006, we can be very content.