Blue-and-white hope to turn things around against Germany

The blue-and-white was anything but impressive in a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic .

Itay Shechter 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Itay Shechter 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel coach Eli Gutman challenged his players to prove their worth against Germany when the teams meet in an international friendly in Leipzig on Thursday night.
The blue-and-white was anything but impressive in a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic on Saturday, its second straight friendly loss since Gutman took charge at the start of the year.
Germany will be looking to make a statement in its final warm-up game before Euro 2012 after a humbling 5-3 defeat to Switzerland over the weekend.
Nevertheless, Gutman believes Thursday could prove to be a turning point for his squad.
“The Germans will play with their strongest team as they want to prove they are in form ahead of the European Championships,” said Gutman, who is preparing the national team for the start of its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign at Azerbaijan on September 7.
“They will give their all but there is no reason for us to fear them. There is a difference in quality between both teams, but we want to show we are making progress.
“I need a result in this match so I can show the players that there is a reward for their patience and hard work.
“We will not give up. We need this test to show what we are capable of.”
Gutman is expected to make two changes from the team that lost to the Czechs, replacing Samuel Scheimann with Rami Gershon at left-back and using holding-midfielder Avihai Yadin in place of Omer Damari, meaning Itay Shechter will be the lone striker.
Germany played without its Bayern Munich players against Switzerland and coach Joachim Loew will be hoping their introduction will result in a significant improvement against Israel.
Loew said he would try out a number of things in Germany’s last warm-up game for Euro 2012, which starts in Poland and Ukraine on June 8.
One of the decisions Loew will have to make is regarding the position he chooses to play captain Philipp Lahm.
“Against Israel Philipp will start on the left because I want to try something out but it means nothing as to how we will play against Portugal [on June 9] in the first Group game,” Loew told a news conference.
“The decision on [where he will play at the Euros] will be taken next week,” he said.
Loew said he could imagine starting against Israel with Jerome Boateng on the right, a position the Bayern Munich central defender is uncomfortable with.
"I see this game as a test for us because I want to try a few things to see how some players adapt to them,” Loew said.
“A good result, no doubt, is desirable as it would give us the push toward the tournament but the Euro euphoria with fans and in Germany will start climbing next week, regardless of the result against Israel.”
Loew will also have to finalize his plans for the central defense after Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker looked out of sorts against the Swiss. Bayern central defender Holger Badstuber is likely to get the starting nod at Euro 2012.
“It may not have worked 100 percent in the co-ordination between [Mertseacker and Hummels] but the two can work outstandingly together,” said Loew.
“All three play at a very good level as central defenders at the highest level internationally. We are in a position where they all fit well together, no matter who plays.”
“What we need to do now is fine tune those little nuances,” said Loew.
Germany takes on Portugal in their Group B opener before playing Netherlands and Denmark.
The German football association (DFB) announced on Wednesday that a national team delegation, led by Loew and captain Lahm, will visit the biggest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland on Friday.
As many as 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp between 1940 and 1945, either in the gas chambers or from freezing temperatures, starvation, sickness, medical tests and forced labor.
Apart from DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, German football league boss Reinhard Rauball and Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff, the delegation will also include Polish-born players Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.
Reuters contributed to this report