Germany coach Joachim Loew, aiming to lead Germany to its first European Championship win since 1996, named Spain and the Netherlands as his team's biggest rivals for the title at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, and compared the tournament to the World Cup.
"A European Championship is in many aspects more difficult than a World Cup,” Loew said. "From the top 12 on UEFA’s rankings, 10 nations have qualified (for next year’s) finals and the other two can do it through the playoffs. In a European Championship with 16 teams there are few differences in their strength. And you don’t have much time to get your team working as a unit.
Germany won all 10 of its qualifying matches for the tournament.
“Spain and the Netherlands are surely the favorites … other established nations such as England, France and Italy belong among the favorites," Loew said. "But a tournament has many unknowns -- a set piece, a wrong decision by the referee and you are out. But our dream is to lift the trophy in our hands in Kiev after the final.
Germany was the runner-up to Spain at the last European Championship, in 2008.