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FOOTBALL

Podolksi plans to shoot Germany to victory over Finland

Hot-shot striker Lukas Podolski aims to continue his purple patch against Finland on Wednesday as Germany look to win their second straight World Cup 2010 qualifier.

Podolksi plans to shoot Germany to victory over Finland
Photo: DPA

The 23-year-old Bayern Munich forward scored twice in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of minnows Liechtenstein in their opening qualifier on the road to South Africa and hopes to add to the 30 goals he has scored for his country.

“I feel very confident right now, hopefully I can continue my scoring streak for a while. I’ll try my best against Finland,” said Podolski ahead of Wednesday night’s clash at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium. But defender Philipp Lahm warned that Germany faces a much tougher opponent in Finland and will need to exploit Podolski’s current form to leave Helsinki with three points.

“We have to keep providing our strikers with plenty of possession in the penalty area, Lukas has already shown how dangerous he can be if he has the ball on his left foot,” said Bayern defender Lahm, who will win his 50th cap. “Finland play a different brand of football from Liechtenstein. “Their team is good in defence and tactically very strong, our defence will be tested much more thoroughly. The Fins will come at us with plenty of aggression. If we keep our passing tight and controlled, we will create our chances,” he said. “We have already shown we can dominate defence-minded teams.”

Germany have a strong record against Finland – they have won 15 of the 20 matches between the two countries and their only defeat came in 1923. But under English head coach Stuart Baxter, Finland can take heart from their scoreless draw with Germany in Gelsenkirchen in 2001, the last time the sides met, and the home side have nothing to lose.

Finland are without two key midfielders – Jari Lirmanen is injured while Alexei Eremenko Jr was not selected due to a drink-driving conviction. But Baxter has a very experienced side who are looking to upset Germany in their opening World Cup qualifier.

“We have a strong team,” he said. “We believe in our skills and in our dreams.”

As a former coach of the South African football team, Baxter would love to take Finland to the next World Cup, but faces an uphill task in Group 4 which his side shares with Germany, Russia and Wales. “We were drawn into a tricky group. Germany and Russia are top teams and in addition the Welsh are quite capable of suprising people, especially against top-class teams,” said Baxter, a former England Under-19 coach. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, that starts in the Olympic Stadium against Germany.”

Baxter has plenty of experience with Liverpool veteran Sami Hyypia and ex-Ajax forward Jari Litmanen alongside Hanover striker Mikael Forssell and Werder Bremen defender Petri Pasanen who ply their trade in Germany. “There are young players in the squad, who have just broken through and they will get their chance, but at the moment we need experience from the likes of Hyypia and Litmanen,” said Baxter.

After failing to help South Africa qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Baxter succeeded compatriot Roy Hodgson as Finland coach in January 2008 and the 55-year-old says he is impressed with what he has seen.

“We have a good crew and there is a lot of optimism, my task is to maintain that,” he said. “It is an exciting challenge, I believe in a positive result.”

FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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