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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Team Divided, Germans Still Favored

FRANKFURT, Germany -- The mud-slinging battle between Juergen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaeus has rocked the German national team ahead of the European Championship.


Two-time finalist Germany, which is the 4-1 favorite to win the competition with bookmakers in London, were beaten in the Euro 92 final by upstarts Denmark.


The team has been determined to gain revenge, but its weeks of preparations were consistently overshadowed by a bitter row between its two biggest stars, who are teammates in Bayern Munich.


The ugly dispute eventually grew to involve coach Berti Vogts, Bayern chairman Franz Beckenbauer and other Bayern players on the national team.


The war of words erupted during Germany's final phase of preparations, which got off to a shaky start with a 1-1 draw at Northern Ireland and grew only worse when the tournament favorites lost at home to France 1-0.


Vogts lost his patience after Matthaeus repeated allegations that Klinsmann had been responsible for blocking his return to the national team.


"The door is closed," Vogts said. "Lothar Matthaeus will never again play for the national team."


But in times of peace, Klinsmann, who slotted nine goals in ten qualifying games and 82 in all for Germany, is still hungry for success.


"The title is my goal in. In 1988 we lost against the Dutch in the semifinals, in 1992 we lost the final to Denmark. Now is the time to capture the title.


"We talked a lot about our bust at the World Cup. If we have another failure, it'll get hot for Vogts. He knows it, the players know it. But it won't happen."


How hot it will actually get for the coach will largely depend on how the team plays Saturday against the Czech Republic, ranked 10th in the world by FIFA but a team most consider the weak link of the "Group of Death."