Germany faces its first hurdle en route to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Friday. And it's set very low. Two months after the Euro 2012 semifinal setback, it's time to return to winning ways.
The Faroe Islands at home - it would be tough to envisage an easier start to the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign for the German national team.
Coach Joachim Löw was under the gun after Germany's Euro 2012 semifinal defeat to Italy, and a recent friendly loss to Argentina hardly helped. Fans and Germany's young players alike were brought back down to earth by Mario Balotelli's dead eye for goal and Italy's wily veteran tacticians.
Disappointment discarded, it's time for Löw and Germany to concentrate on its next task, reaching Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup two years from now.
"Essentially I do feel that the hunger for success is absolutely prevalent among the team after the disappointment at the Euros," Löw told reporters prior to Friday's game in Hanover against the Faroe Islands. He also said that the players had put that disappointment behind them.
Six swift points to get the ball rolling
The German team displayed its ability to qualify solidly ahead of the euros, reaching the tournament in Poland and Ukraine with a perfect ten wins out of ten games. But Löw warned that his team's World Cup group was far more taxing.
"Sweden, Ireland and Austria, especially, will push us to the limits,"52-year-old Löw said, acknowledging that opponents like the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan should pose less of a threat. "We want to start with two wins and build a solid foundation."
That would involve an easy win and a tough one. After the home game against the Faroe Islands, Germany's stars travel to Vienna to face Austria next Tuesday evening.
Of the squad Löw selected last week, only Bayern Munich's Toni Kroos is considered a possible absentee with a bruised hip. He joins club teammate Mario Gomez, recovering from summer ankle surgery, on the injured list.
A defensive reshuffle appears to be on the cards, with Löw announcing that captain Phillip Lahm would return to the right side of the back four for Friday.
"That's how we've been training. He did switch sides for Euro 2012, but seeing as plays on the right side of defense for Bayern each week, we will make this swap again," Löw said. Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer is likely to line up on the left side, where he played in a friendly last month against Argentina - with the national coach saying he has a feeling that the 24-year-old "is now arriving."
As for Dortmund's high-profile signing Marco Reus, Löw said "one can assume that he will play." One can quite probably also assume that this will be to the detriment of teenager and probable substitute Mario Götze, just as it has been at club level so far this season.