Qualification from Group A of the UEFA EURO 2012 championship should be an easy job for the three-time European champions, with only Turkey likely to give the Germans too much trouble.
“Of course Germany is the favourite, along with Turkey,” said national coach Joachim Löw in Warsaw, where the draw was announced. But he added that Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan would both be logistically difficult given how far away the countries were.
“I’m neither shocked nor happy,” he said.
As it happens, it will be quite a German affair, given there are two fellow countrymen among the coaches – Azerbaijan is trained by former German national coach Berti Vogts and Kazakhstan by Bernd Storck, who has been assistant coach at various Bundesliga teams.
The qualification matches for the final tournament, to be played in Poland and Ukraine, run from September 3 this year until October 11, 2011.
Germany beat Austria 1:0 in the 2008 Euro Cup, which the latter hosted. It also beat Turkey 3:2 in the semi-final.
When Germany played Belgium last August, it won 2:0.
Azerbaijan coach Vogts was cheerful about the draw.
“We are very pleased,” he said. “We’ll get a lot of money from the games against Germany, which means we can built more stadiums and invest more money in youth training. We’re happy to be able to play against the great Germans, from whom we can learn a lot. We know we’ll have to work on our game, but we’re on the right track.”
Kazakhstan coach Storck was similarly happy. “It is a particular highlight for us, and especially for me. It’s just as nice that Azerbaijan will meet the former German trainer Berti Vogts in a duel of the underdogs.”
Sixteen countries will go through to the final tournament, which kicks on June 8, 2012. Hosts Poland and Ukraine qualify automatically.
The winners of each of the nine groups go through to the final championship, along with the runner up with the best record. The other eight runners up then play off for the final four spots.