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Mertesacker: Group stage crucial for Germany at Euros, semis possible

Per Mertesacker, former national soccer player, stands in Hanover Zoo after receiving the honorary sponsorship for the Rothschild giraffes from the Per Mertesacker Foundation.  World Cup winner Mertesacker has said that hosts Germany can go at least as far as the semi-finals at Euro 2024, if they play a good group stage to create a nation-wide euphoria. Michael Matthey/dpa

World Cup winner Per Mertesacker has said that hosts Germany can go at least as far as the semi-finals at Euro 2024, if they play a good group stage to create a nation-wide euphoria.

Mertsesacker the Bild am Sonntag paper that the Euros are a "pressure situation" for the newly formed team and new coach Julian Nagelsmann which they will have to experience first.

"We have a very good chance to advance from the group stage. That will be an important step for the team," Mertetsacker said.

"Getting through this group and then taking the mood in the country with us and growing from these experiences. We will need the group stage to really get everyone behind us so that this can be a successful summer."

Germany open the Euros on Friday against Scotland, with Hungary and Switzerland the other opponents in the group.

The 2014 World Cup winner Mertesacker said reaching the semi-finals was possible, "and then we have to see who we will face."

Germany won the 1974 World Cup as hosts when there were no knock-out matches but two group stages. They then went out in the semis at the other big two home events, Euro 1988 and the 2006 World Cup.

Long-time Arsenal defender Mertesacker, who is now their academy chief, named the 2021 runners-up England top favourites for the title on July 14.

"They have come a long way in their development. The team has grown over the years. They have great young players like Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. It is impressive," Mertesacker said.