Schweinsteiger hopes to face Hungary in Euro bid


Berlin (AFP) – Bastian Schweinsteiger hopes to play his first football since tearing knee ligaments in March when world champions Germany host Hungary on Saturday in their final Euro 2016 warm-up.

“My goal is to play on Saturday. I hope for 20, 30 minutes. It’s important to get some game practice,” said Germany’s captain ahead of the Gelsenkirchen friendly.

“I assume I’ll be subbed on at some stage.”

The 31-year-old Manchester United star tore the medial ligament in his knee while on Germany duty in March, having last played 90 minutes of football in January.

Germany open their Euro 2016 campaign in Group C against Ukraine in Lille on June 12, then face Poland four days later before playing Northern Ireland on June 21.

“Of course, I can’t go from zero to 100 percent, I need to get back into a rhythm,” he added.

Schweinsteiger has been here before.

His outstanding midfield performances were a key factor in Germany winning the 2014 World Cup.

An ankle injury hampered his preparations for Brazil and he only made his first appearance off the bench in the second group game against Ghana.

He improved with each game as Germany progressed to the final, where he was superb in their 1-0 extra-time win over Argentina.

“He brings an incredible amount to the team,” said Germany defender Jerome Boateng.

“He pushes forward, even when the game isn’t going so well.

“He sets the pace and can calm a game. He’s our quarterback.”

Last Sunday, an inexperienced Germany team lost 3-1 to Slovakia, who will make their European championships debut in Group B with Russia, England and Wales.

Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew will demand a better display against Hungary.

Loew left a host of stars such as Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer on the bench against Slovakia, but will name a full-strength side against Hungary.

Loew experimented with a three-man defence in Augsburg but with just 10 days to go before Germany open their Euro campaign, the coach has pressing matters to attend to in order to tighten their backline.

Loew must decide between Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Emre Can at right-back and, with Mats Hummels carrying an injury, he needs to chose between Antonio Rudiger and Shkodran Mustafi at centre-back to partner Boateng.

It looks as though Mario Gomez, who scored 26 goals for Besiktas in the Turkish league, will start as striker with Mario Goetze, whose goal won the World Cup final, on the bench.

“We have to work on the details, most of all in the way we defend,” said Boateng, the only member of Germany’s World cup winning team who started against Slovakia.

“That starts with the guys up front, if we don’t all work together, our defence looks bad.

“We haven’t played together very much in the current set-up and there is always something new, but all in all we’re on the right path.”

Germany leave their pre-Euro 2016 training camp in Switzerland on Friday and will fly to their base in France next Tuesday.

Just as in 2014, die Mannschaft have been rocked by the loss of Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus, who has been ruled out with a groin injury.

He missed the World Cup win after tearing ankle ligaments two years ago.

“It’s an unbelievable story. It’s really very, very sad for him and the team will of course miss such an exceptional player,” said Boateng.

“Marco would have been a real weapon, but now we have to keep looking forward.”

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