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Germany’s quest for a record fourth European title begins on Sunday

Germany’s quest for a record fourth European title, only two years after winning a fourth World Cup, begins on Sunday against Ukraine in Lille.

“We should write a new story and bring the fourth European Championship star to Germany,” said team manager Oliver Bierhoff, whose golden goal in the 1996 final against the Czech Republic secured a 2-1 win and Germany’s last title.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has at his disposal most of the players that won the 2014 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro. Jonas Hector, a 26-year-old left back, is the only addition to the squad.

Manuel Neuer, who is likely to captain the side in the Group C opener against Ukraine, said the team would be looking at France’s match against Romania for the opening game before concentrating on its own.

“The atmosphere in the team is very good,” the Bayern Munich goalkeeper said. “We can hardly wait to get on the pitch.”

Germany’s preparations have been hampered, as has become customary, by injuries, with Borussia Dortmund players Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan ruled out with groin and knee injuries, respectively. Roma defender Antonio Rudiger tore a cruciate ligament in his right knee in training on Tuesday, giving Bayer Leverkusen center back Jonathan Tah a late call-up.

The 20-year-old Tah’s addition ensured Germany will have the youngest side at Euro 2016 with an average age of 25.81 years, marginally younger than England’s squad with an average age of 25.84.

Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger returned as a substitute against Hungary last Saturday after almost three months out with his second serious knee injury of the year – there are still doubts over his match fitness – and defender Mats Hummels is still working his way back from a calf injury. Defensive lynchpin Jerome Boateng has fully recovered from his injury problems.

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