It’s time to get serious for the German national team. With a win over Portugal in their first group game, the Germans want to make a decisive step towards the next round. The players and coach are optimistic.
Finally, Joachim Löw and his team of chargers will start experiencing the World Cup up close and personal when they head into action against Portugal at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova on Monday.
The occasion couldn't be greater: the game marks Germany's 100th match at a World Cup - the first country to reach the milestone.
"Arriving in Salvador and training here finally means the World Cup is starting for us," said Germany's coach after training on Sunday. For a week now the German players have been training in Campo Bahia in Santo André, while at the same time enjoying a taste of the Brazilian way of life.
On Monday afternoon (16:00 UTC+2) Germany will finally kick off against archrivals Portugal in the three million strong city of Salvador. It will be a chance for the three-time World Cup winners to show the world that they really have a chance for this year's title.
"We have shown in the last few years that we have plenty of quality," he told reporters. "And, we have improved a lot in the way we play."
Ahead of their opening group match against Portugal, Germany's team management is happy to look long term though. "The team knows that with these 23 players, we can win the title," Löw said.
All Germany players fit
For the match against the Portuguese, which will be attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, coach Löw was able to confirm that "all players were 100 percent fit." That's also the case for Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was flown to a clinic on Saturday via helicopter.
"The tests were done because FIFA requires it for insurance reasons," said Löw.
In the Portuguese camp, Cristiano Ronaldo also seems to be back to full fitness. He had been in doubt after after struggling with tendinosis in his left knee, but assured reporters ahead of the clash that he was fine to play.
Podolski to start?
Although the starting lineups aren't yet confirmed, German newspaper "Bild" has tipped Lukas Podolski to start in place of Mezut Özil in attack. Podolski has impressed in training in Brazil and in the final friendly games before the tournament too.
"We want to play well and win. We also want the other nations to look at us and say, "Wow, the Germans are here,' " said Podolski.
But, it's still a long way until the World Cup final in the Maracana stadium on July 13, says Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer ahead of the opening clash
"We are not the only team that are desperate to win the title," he said, before adding that his recent shoulder injury is now fully healed.
Sami Khedira is also not getting carried away with the emotion of the occasion.
"This will be the toughest game, even if we have won against Portugal a lot recently," said the midfielder. "But when we play to our game plan, then we'll beat Portugal."
ck, al / rd (sid/dpa)