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Culture

Germany Announces European Championship Team

German national team coach Rudi Völler added goal-scoring power and left one position open in announcing the team he will take to the Euro 2004 championships in Portugal in two weeks.

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Coach Rudi Völler has found his team.

The biggest surprise was the addition of Thomas Brdaric, a striker who won attention in the last half of the Bundesliga season by scoring 12 goals for his club, Hanover 96.

"Brdaric had an impressive season, especially the last half," Völler said in announcing the team. He praised Brdaric's speed and said he scored goals "that you don't see often from German strikers."

Brdaric, 29, who has so far only played in a friendly against the U.S., took Oliver Neuville's place in the national team. The small striker has scored four goals in 48 games for the national team, but has struggled since performing competently at the 2002 World Cup. He is coming off a difficult season where he mostly warmed the bench for his club, Bayer Leverkusen.

Youth injection

The 22-member team is largely made up of the same players that made the World Cup trip, with the exception of a few young talents that will offer the team's established veterans serious competition for the starting spots. Andreas Hinkel and Philipp Lahm, defenders from Vfb Stuttgart, and goalie Timo Hildebrand are three of the youngsters who will be gaining valuable tournament experience in Portugal ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

"This is a good sign" for Germany, said Völler.

The coach said he will add the final player on June 2. Hot contenders for the spot will be 18-year-old Lukas Podolski and Sebastian Schweinsteiger. Podolski, playing for 1. FC Cologne, scored 10 goals in the last half of the season and became the youthful sensation of the Bundesliga.

Schweinsteiger, 19, who already has a few national team games under his belt, has been performing well in midfield for Bayern Munich and could give Völler a creative option in the offense.

Both will get the chance to prove themselves at the Under 21 European championships from May 27 until June 8 in Germany.

The rest of the team: Goal -- Oliver Kahn (FC Bayern Munich), Jens Lehmann (FC Arsenal London), Timo Hildebrand (VfB Stuttgart); Defense -- Frank Baumann (Werder Bremen), Arne Friedrich (Hertha BSC Berlin), Andreas Hinkel (VfB Stuttgart), Philipp Lahm (VfB Stuttgart), Jens Nowotny (Bayer Leverkusen), Christian Rahn (Hamburger SV), Christian Wörns (Borussia Dortmund); Midfield -- Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich), Fabian Ernst (Werder Bremen), Paul Freier (VfL Bochum), Torsten Frings (Borussia Dortmund), Dietmar Hamann (FC Liverpool), Jens Jeremies (Bayern Munich), Sebastian Kehl (Borussia Dortmund), Bernd Schneider (Bayer Leverkusen); Strikers -- Fredi Bobic (Hertha BSC Berlin), Thomas Brdaric (Hanover 96), Kevin Kuranyi (Vfb Stuttgart), Miroslav Klose (1. FC Kaiserslautern).

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