Euro soccer: Germany eye group win, "home" advantage

GDANSK Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:02am EDT

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GDANSK (Reuters) - Germany can kill two birds with one stone by winning their final Euro 2012 Group B game against Denmark - clinching top spot and setting up a quarter-final at their home base in Gdansk.

The Germans are in the driving seat after edging Netherlands 2-1 on Wednesday to move on to six points with two wins from two matches and are just one point away from winning the group.

A victory against the Danes, who have three points along with Portugal, in Lviv on June 17 would ensure they would play the second team from Group A in a last-eight clash in Gdansk, a stone's throw their team hotel in the lush suburb of Oliwa.

"Winning the group will be very important because we would be staying in Gdansk for our quarter-final match," said Germany coach Joachim Loew. "That would be an advantage for us."

Germany play all their group games in Ukraine, meaning they are travelling several thousand miles from their Baltic sea base in the Polish port city.

Wednesday's win over old rivals Netherlands in Kharkiv was played in hot and humid conditions, draining Loew's players.

"The temperatures were extreme," he said. "It was an intense game and there were phases where both teams were robbed of any dynamism."

SECOND STEP

The three-time European champions are looking for their first title victory since 1996.

"Each win gives us a push. We took the second step but we also want to win against Denmark. That is what we demand from us," said midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

'Schweini' is finding top form after a thigh injury in May and a broken collar bone and ankle problem earlier this year.

Loew said he would not reshuffle his team against the Danes but he must replace right back Jerome Boateng, who is suspended for the final group match following a booking on Wednesday.

"There are options for that. (Captain) Philipp Lahm could return to the right and I would bring in Marcel Schmelzer on the left. Lars Bender could also play on the right," said the 52-year-old Loew.

"We still need points. We cannot rely on Portugal and Netherlands drawing," said Loew. "That is why I will not make many changes apart from maybe the odd player who could need a rest so that, if we make it, they will be fresh for the last eight."

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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