GDANSK, Poland (AFP)
Defender Holger Badstuber has said Germany's centre-backs can ill
afford a mistake against Greece in Friday's Euro 2012
quarter-finals with Arsenal's Per Mertesacker waiting in the
The 27-year-old Mertesacker missed the last three months of the
season after tearing ankle ligaments playing for the Gunners in
February and Mats Hummels is expected to continue in his place
against the Greeks on Friday in Gdansk.
Bayern Munich's Badstuber, 22, and Borussia Dortmund's Hummels,
23, both came through Bayern's Academy, although neither played
in defence at the time, and have risen to become stars of the
Bundesliga and now the national team.
With just 30 caps between them, the pair are forging an
impressive centre-back unit, but Mertesacker's impressive tally
of 81 internationals means there is plenty of experience waiting
to take over, if need be.
"Per is an important element of the group, he is a popular and
very experienced player," said Badstuber on Tuesday having played
19 of Germany's 25 matches since the last World Cup.
"That is what counts and anyone who says his era (in the national
team) is over is a complete idiot.
"Per has had a difficult last six months and his injury took a
long time to heal.
"Before the Euro he didn't play a real game and that made things
difficult for him."
Germany coach Joachim Loew has said he opted for Hummels and
Badstuber, in preference to Mertesacker, because the pair had
both held down regular spots for their respective clubs and is
pleased with their development so far.
Midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and defender Lars
Bender all sat out training on Tuesday purely to aid recovery
after Sunday's 2-1 win over Denmark.
Having created an upset by beating Russia to qualify for the
quarter-finals as the runners-up in Group A, Greece are bidding
to emulate their Euro 2004 winning squad and Badstuber says the
Germans must be on their guard.
"We have every reason to be self-confident against Greece, but
they will be tough to play against and will try and hit us on the
counter," said the Bayern Munich defender after Germany won all
three Group B matches.
"It would be a primary error for us to go into that game thinking
we have already won, that would be a major mistake.
"They aren't seen as one of the game's powerhouses, but have
already beaten Russia and they were one of the favourites."