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Germany Enter Euro 2008 Campaign With Confidence

Germany will enter their first Euro 2008 match against Poland determined to make an impression, coach Joachim Loew said ahead of the Group B clash.

Giant poster portraying German players, from left, Michael Ballack, Lukas Podolski, Tobias Schweinsteiger, Kevin Kuranyi and coach Joachim Loew

Germany coach Joachim Loew has been keeping his team's preparations under wraps

"We go into this game confident, full of belief and with a certain degree of boldness," Loew told a news conference after the team's arrival in the Austrian host city of Klagenfurt. Germany meet Poland on Sunday, June 8.

Midfielder Torsten Frings shared the optimism, saying ahead of the departure from the team's Swiss base camp: "We really believe that we can win the title. If not we shouldn't be here."

Germany have not won a Euro match since the 1996 final, which adds spice for Loew in his biggest match to date as head coach since being promoted from assistant as successor to Juergen Klinsmann after the 2006 World Cup.

Michael Ballack, right, talks to his coach Joachim Loew

Coach and captain keep their cards close to their chests

But the coach was upbeat that victory will finally come again after six winless matches in first-round exits in 2000 and 2004.

"We want to end this series as soon as possible,” Loew said. "I believe that we have a team that is capable of winning this first match. If we perform to our capabilities then we will have a team that will take charge and dictate the rhythm."

Loew refused to reveal his starting lineup as some uncertainty remains around Bayern Munich players Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski.

All that Loew was prepared to say was that "Schweinsteiger has improved compared to the beginning of the week."

Gomez rumored to partner Klose up front

It appears that Podolski will get the nod on the left wing instead of Schweinsteiger and that VfB Stuttgart's high-scoring Mario Gomez will partner Munich's Miroslav Klose up front.

This lineup, which features captain Michael Ballack and Frings as key midfielders, only underlines that Germany are out to attack from the outset and to spare themselves the nerves they suffered at the World Cup two years ago when they required an injury-time winner from Oliver Neuville to beat the Poles.

A good win would also send a clear warning to the other group opponents Austria and Croatia, and to the other teams as well -- looking ahead to the June 29 final in Vienna.

Loew ultimately has his sights set on the title but also warned that "it is the toughest tournament in the world" with little separating the teams.

Loew calls on Germany's twelfth man

Germany held their final training session later behind closed doors, but Loew had earlier appealed to the German fans in an open letter published in several German dailies.

Germany fans on the Berlin fan mile in 2006

Germany's twelfth man: the fans

"Our team doesn't end with the shirt number 23. The millions of German fans are also part of it. We saw at the summer fairy tale 2006 (Germany's run to third place at the World Cup) what can be possible with enthusiasm and big support," said Loew.

"The Euro title must not remain a dream if everyone involved seeks one common goal,” he added. "Our mountain tour in the alpine countries of Austria and Switzerland is going to have a happy ending -- on June 29 in the Vienna final.”

Polish-born strikers Germany's main weapon

Loew will be hoping Polish-born striker Klose will be Germany’s main weapon in that quest.

The Bayern Munich striker, who was born in Oppeln, Poland, was top scorer at the 2006 World Cup and after winning Germany's domestic treble last season he wants to translate domestic success to the European stage.

With 39 goals and 75 caps, Klose will turn 30 on Monday with Loew insisting he is in the form of his life.

Klose and David Odonkor celebrate his goal against Belarus

Klose has been in consistently good form for Germany

"Miroslav has left a fantastic impression in training, I have never seen him that fit, that agile and strong," said Loew. "The way he moves in training, you could see his old dynamic self coming back."

Podolski, Germany’s other Polish-born striker, said he would treat Sunday's game against Poland with the same fierce desire to see his side win in style.

The 23-year-old speaks fluent Polish and has been helping his team-mates pronounce the names of the opponents they will face in Klagenfurt.

Poldi the Polish spy

The Bayern Munich striker still has relatives in Poland and watches Polish television at home, but he is keeping his fingers crossed that Germany coach Joachim Loew will name him in the starting line-up to add to his 48 caps.

Scorer Lukas Podolski from Munich celebrates

Poldi hopes to silence his doubters

"Things are going well and I am training as if I will be playing; I'll find out tomorrow or the day after if I am starting," said Podolski, who has been used as an attacking midfielder by Loew in the past.

"Poland are a compact team with a good coach, but if we play at 100 percent and work hard I am sure we will win," he said.

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