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Germany are not among
the bookmaker's favourites, but they're still
the current European champions and the team most people would like to avoid. England would
also like to see the Germans fall at the first hurdle, where a game between the two
footballing rivals will not be decided on penalties.
Oliver Kahn seems to be Germany's safest pair
of hands and while Lothar Matthaeus (39) may be playing out his footballing days in the
American MLS, his experience is deemed essential for Erich Ribbeck; if he's fit. Jens
Jeremies also looks set to play against Romania, after a twisted knee scare on Friday.
The strike partnership of Ulf Kirsten and
Oliver Bierhoff looks likely to be supported by Mehmet Scholl, neatly behind them; if the
twinge in Kirsten's back has healed.
Romania didn't lose a game in
qualifying, although they made hard work of some of their matches; a 0-0 draw at home to
Slovakia, for example.
In Hagi, the Romanians have an exceptional
playmaker. He helped inspire Galatasaray on their march across Europe and put the Turkish
club's name on the UEFA Cup. The problem for Germany is how to stifle him.
Romania's problem will be confidence. They've
never won a match in the final stages of the European Championships, although they beat
England in France98 (World Cup). Romania's Player of the Century will need his
team to perform to his standards if they're to start on winning ways here. Against this
German side, it might be Romania's best chance yet.
N. Ireland 4-0 (Qual)
Turkey 0-0 (Qual)
Czech Rep. 3-2
Liechtenstein 3-0 (Qual)
Cyprus 2-3 (aet)
2-Markus Babbel, 10-Lothar Matthaeus, 4-Thomas Linke, 6-Jens Nowotny,
8-Thomas Haessler, 7-Mehmet Scholl, 17-Christian Ziege, 16-Jens Jeremies
20-Oliver Bierhoff, 11-Paolo Rink
3-Liviu Ciobotariu, 4-Iulian Filipescu, 6-Gheorghe Popescu, 13-Cristian Chivu
5-Constantin Galca, 10-Gheorghe Hagi, 2-Dan Petrescu, 8-Dorinel Munteanu
9-Viorel Moldovan, 11-Adrian Ilie
Referee: K Nielsen
Game number 5 provides another exciting first-half.
Although the Germans kick-off, it is the
Romanians who soon take control.
In the 5th minute, Illie breaks on the left
and squares to Moldovan in the six-yard box. The Grasshoppers player
makes no mistake and shoots from close-range into the roof of the net. Oliver Kahn seemed
to have lead in his boots.
The Germans were stunned and Romania came at
them again; looking for the second goal that would put them well on the way to their first
ever win in an European Championship finals match.
This German side might not be the favourites
to retain their crown, but they have what all German sides before them posses. Discipline
On the quarter hour they start to string more
constructive passes together. Romania counter a couple of times to momentarily destroy
their rhythm, but in the 28th minute Germany equalise.
Hessler to Scholl as the Germans continue
stroking the ball around the area. It's real slow, to Linke on the right, back to Babbel
and then when the ball returns to Mehmet Scholl, he fires from the D into
the top corner.
The Germans come forward again and the
Romanians start to get frustrated. Romania's attacks no longer hold conviction and the
disciplined Germans cut them out and counter time and time again.
Two Romanian corners in succession. Both times
the Germans put them under too much pressure as they try to play short. Haessler at the
other end fires high.
Three minutes from the end of the first-half,
Illie goes down in the German area. The Danish referee turns his back and gives Hagi a
yellow card for protesting. Illie gets one too.
On the stroke of half-time, Hagi has a
struggle with Babbel and gestures to the referee again. If the Romanian playmaker keeps
this up, he'll be taking an early bath.
Almost from the restart Hagi gets a knock from Matthaeus. It's as if the Germans want to
provoke him into a sending-off.
The first fifteen minutes of the second-half
had its brief moments: Kahn saved from Moldovan at close-range for a corner; the angle
realistically too tight for the Romanian. Two minutes later, Bierhoff headed onto the
outside of the post.
More fancy footwork from Hagi, but the Germans
spoil the show. Germany try a few long balls to Babbel and on the hour the game loses
Germany slow down and pass around the team;
losing possession too frequently. Players from both sides are getting a touch of the ball
but nothing exciting to talk about.
Hagi and Matthaeus are replaced, their legs no
longer fresh enough, and the clock eventually wins the day.
Still no win for the Romanians in the finals
of a European Championship match and the Germans prove they need to get back to the
Germany 1 -- Romania 1
Man of the Match:
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Mon. 12th June:
Game 06 Portugal - England (3-2)