Friday 6 June 2008

Calm Lahm ready for commanding role

Philipp Lahm is proud that his "voice has gained some weight" in the Germany team as they prepare for what he sees as an all-important opening Group B fixture against Poland.

'Important experience'
The 24-year-old FC Bayern München left-back feels he has grown in stature in the two seasons since the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and is determined to use his hard-won confidence to good effect as Germany seek a win in Klagenfurt on Sunday. "The World Cup is now out of our heads, and the EURO is finally about to start," he said. "Naturally, it especially important that we start with a victory. Before the World Cup, I had only been a professional for three years. Now I have gathered a lot of important experience in two years in Munich, and my voice has gained some weight in the team."

Tournament star
After scoring Germany's first goal of the 2006 World Cup – a screamer against Costa Rica – and impressing throughout, Lahm was regarded as one of the stars of that tournament. He now feels capable of producing an even more commanding performance in Austria and Switzerland: "Now I am more experienced, I need to take more responsibility," he said. "The tension is definitely rising, but that is normal. Every footballer who comes here is looking forward to the games finally starting."

Schweinsteiger concern
Lahm is not overly concerned about the pundits billing Germany as pre-finals favourites, saying: "We are just one of many teams who can win this tournament." He was also quick to scotch media concern over perceived weaknesses in the German defence, and particularly the form of his Bayern team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger. "I do not see any big problem in the defence and Bastian will find his form," he said. "He has always been there when we need him. He is a great player and we live off his ideas. He always puts in his best performances at big tournaments and has helped lead us to success."