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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 22, 2007

Germany's Lehmann backs England to qualify

Jens Lehmann wants England to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals claiming a tournament without them would 'not be as interesting'.

The Germany goalkeeper will play in the friendly against England tonight at Wembley, days after claiming the visitors are mentally superior and that England are not blessed with many world-class players.

The 37-year-old hopes England do make it the finals of the tournament next summer in Austria and Switzerland despite only sitting fourth in Group E and facing critical qualification matches against Israel, Russia and Estonia over the next two months.

Lehmann said: 'I hope England qualify for the Euro 2008 finals. A big tournament without them will not be that interesting and I think they will be there.

'Teams go through different periods but at the end of the day their quality and togetherness will help them to qualify.

'England have some outstanding players in their side and when you see them playing in the Premier League or Champions League, you can see that there is a lot of quality.

'For some reason they do not deliver in big tournaments but I don't know why this is.

'I just hope they will not deliver against us at Wembley.'

Meanwhile, the under-fire Arsenal keeper insists he can handle the pressure against England.

Lehmann has already made two costly howlers during Arsenal's start to the new Premier League campaign.

His shocking attempted clearance against Fulham on the opening weekend presented striker David Healy with the simplest of goals and he allowed a shot from David Dunn to slip through his grasp in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Sunday.

But the 37-year-old remains number one in the eyes of Germany coach Joachim Low and the Arsenal stopper is ready to meet the challenge of tonight's showpiece friendly and ignore the critics.

Lehmann said: 'I have done two mistakes in three plays, this is right. The comments do not matter to me. I must judge my achievement myself.

'The mistakes were so simple, unique, that I now have no reason to have to think about my fundamental skill as a goalkeeper.

'Apart from these mistakes I have played substantially well. The first mistake occurred in the first ball contact of the season when I had two thoughts all at once. This game is nothing special for me, I can handle it.'

Low is under no illusions that Lehmann has the mental toughness to overcome tonight's test at the new Wembley.

The Germany coach commented: 'Jens knows such situations, he can stand such pressure well.

'He has proved this in the approach to the World Cup with his duel with Oliver Kahn.'

Low's preparation for their clash with England has been wrecked by numerous injuries to some of his key players as he looks ahead to September's Euro 2008 qualifier against Wales.

Low is without several long-term absentees, including captain Michael Ballack, Torsten Frings, Lukas Podolski and Tim Borowski, while first-team regulars Miroslav Klose, Marcell Jansen and Bastian Schweinsteiger have also been forced out in recent days.

Low added: 'There are 60 players injured in the Bundesliga, there has to be a reason. The tackling of some players leaves a lot to be desired.

'I am not saying anything bad about (Werder Bremen defender) Naldo (who injured Klose at the weekend), but that was typical of many Bundesliga fouls in that the player simply goes for the legs without any chance of winning the ball.

'Some players think they have won a tackle simply by hacking down their opponent, pulling their shirt or fouling to break up the play.

'A tackle should be an attempt to win the ball and start an attack or score, but today I see players who just want to stop their opponent.'

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