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FREUND'S HOME VIEW

Posted on 8 June 2006  - 12:00

Steffen Freund has few doubts that Germany will kick-off the World Cup in style on home soil against Costa Rica on Friday.

Steffen Freund has few doubts that Germany will kick-off the World Cup in style on home soil against Costa Rica on Friday.

The former fans favourite who played 131 times for us between 1998-2003 is donning his pundit’s hat throughout the tournament for German TV channels Phoenix and DSF.

And Steffen is backing the host nation – managed by another Lane legend Jurgen Klinsmann – to breeze into the knockout stages.

Over 65,000 fans will pack the Allianz Arena in Munich for the opening ceremony and opening game of the tournament as Germany take on the South Americans at 5pm.

“I think Germany will win 3-0,†insisted Steffen. “It will be a fantastic spectacle, the first game of the tournament with millions around the world watching.

“There will be a lot of pressure but I don’t believe Costa Rica is the strongest team at the moment and Germany will win that game.

“The only danger I can see is Paulo Wanchope who obviously I remember from my time at Spurs when he was with Derby, West Ham and Manchester City. If he’s in form and scoring goals he could cause problems but I just don’t think Costa Rica are strong enough to win this game.â€Â

Steffen - capped 17 times by Germany and a member of the Euro 96 winning squad – feels the hosts will benefit from a snowball effect in terms of confidence and backing of the home fans the further they progress.

But he is worried that they have failed to beat the top countries in the FIFA world rankings for a number of years – indeed, in the last five years, they’ve only beaten the USA (twice) and Mexico of the teams currently in the top 10.

He added: “The problem is that we haven’t been able to beat one of the top ranked teams in the world for the last few years – I think the last win like that was when we beat England in the last match at Wembley in 2001. That is why we can’t be one of the favourites for this tournament.

“But we are the home side and I believe we will win Group A because it’s not the strongest with Poland, Costa Rica and Ecuador. We can win those games.

“We will then need some German luck in the knockout rounds!

“If we get through to the quarter-finals I think we will get stronger and stronger. Then we can beat any team and the atmosphere in Germany will be so special. It will make the team stronger.â€Â