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EURO 2012: Germans dine on humble pie

GDANSK, Poland, June 7- Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has insisted Germany dine on humble pie before opening their Euro 2012 campaign on Saturday while team manager Oliver Bierhoff has warned of pride before the fall.

Germany begin their Euro 2012 quest against Portugal in Lviv, Ukraine, on Saturday with one in four Germans believing they will be crowned European champions for the fourth time.

According to a survey by Germany’s Allensbach Institute, 24 percent of Germans polled believe their team will win the final on July 1 in Kiev with the European championships being hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

A further 39 percent believe their team will reach at least the semi-finals and just one percent of those surveyed believe Germany will come home after the pool matches, even though they face Holland, Portugal and Denmark in Group B.

After losing to Spain in the final of Euro 2008 and having finished third at both the 2010 and 2006 World Cups, expectations are understandably high amongst the German public.

Friendly wins over Brazil and Holland last August and November respectively only escalated the situation, while defeats this year to France and Switzerland only mildly dampened enthusiasm.

But with defending champions and World Cup holders Spain arriving as clear favourites, Neuer is preaching the virtues of humility.

“Of course, we want to win the title, that goes without saying,” said the 26-year-old Bayern Munich star.

“But in the beginning we should eat humble pie, as the saying goes, I just hope we have a positive start.

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“There is some self-imposed pressure within the squad and I hope that eases after the first match.”

Spain and Germany were the only teams to finish their qualifying campaigns with 100 per cent records, but Bierhoff has dismissed any talk of a repeat of the 2008 final as premature, while admitting there is anxiety within the camp.

“Pride comes before the fall is our favourite saying these days,” said the 44-year-old, whose winning goal at London’s Wembley gave Germany the Euro 96 title.

“The confidence levels are high, but there is still a high rate of insecurity as to what the team can and can’t do.

“In 2006 (when Germany hosted the World Cup), it was unclear if the team could or would withstand the pressure.

“We went on to finish third, then at 2010 we had a very young team and we didn’t know if they would gel into a team. Now we know what is possible.

“We saw what we could do against Brazil and Holland in friendlies, as well as the qualifying campaign.

“However, we also saw this team in a different guise against France and Switzerland, but we know expectations are high amongst the German public.”

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