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Sami Khedira ready to end Germany's Italian curse

After defeat to England, Germany's stand-in captain Sami Khedira is ready to lead again. Germany face their bogey team in Munich on Tuesday and must improve if the midfielder is to get a better ending this time.

After playing like a captain in Berlin, Sami Khedira acted like one in Monday's press conference, demonstrating the Juventus midfielder is ready to become Germany's new leader.

"It is a great honor for me to captain Germany," said Khedira, who was also quick to point out that his predecessor wasn't finished just yet. "It's something special, but it's not as important to me as is being suggested. We are talking as if Basti [Schweinsteiger] has retired. Whoever writes him off is making a big mistake. I don't think it matters that much who wears the armband," said Khedira.

Assistant coach Thomas Schneider echoed the midfielder's thoughts. "Schweinsteiger is our captain. There are lots of players that can wear the armband," said Schneider.

The former Stuttgart head coach looked uncomfortable and nervous in front of the press, deflecting questions about the defensive unit and tomorrow's starting line-up.

With a calm manner and a cool presence, Khedira took the lead, though. "It was good that we had our eyes opened" said Khedira of the defeat in Berlin. "Everyone did a little less [than normal] and that is what cost us the necessary compactness," added the midfielder.

Against Italy, Germany are well aware they must improve. "It is clear that we put pressure [on] ourselves with the defeat and must now deliver," said Schneider.

Thomas Scheider PK Pressekonferenz Deutsche Fussball Nationalmannschaft

Schneider looked unsettled in Monday's press conference

Haunted by the past

"Germany against Italy are always big games," said Khedira. "The result is important for us. It's a phenomenon that Italy perform better against Germany. They should lull themselves into a false sense of security."

The midfielder might have overlooked the fact Germany have never beaten Italy in a tournament but displayed the kind of confidence Germany need. The 28-year-old, who plays his club football in Italy, remained respectful of the opposition, though. "The Italian league is much better than is perhaps depicted in the media. The game there is molded around tactics."

There was little indication of Germany's tactical plan in Monday's press conference but Schneider did hint that Mario Gomez might make way for Mario Götze and that Thomas Müller would be rested. Despite his lack of first-team football at Bayern, Götze has made a good impression on his Germany teammates: "He's working hard and has no doubts," said Khedira.

Germany are three months away from the start of the Euros and, while they typically fail to impress in friendlies, there are concerns that France will be a step too far for the 2014 World Cup winners. "It won't be easy and everyone wants to beat the world champions, but we definitely want to win the tournament," said Khedira, matter-of-factly.

After Italy on Tuesday, Germany only have two more friendlies (against Slovakia and Hungary in May and June respectively) before the start of the 2016 European Championships.

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