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Have punch to win Cup, says Lahm

Berlin: Germany launched their World Cup preparations on Wednesday with the start of a 10-day training camp in the Italian Alps aimed at fine-tuning a team bidding for a first international title in 18 years.

Germany coach Joachim Loew, in charge for his fourth tournament and second World Cup since taking over in 2006, has invited 27 players in his provisional squad which will be cut back to 23 by June 2.

Their cool and tranquil South Tyrolean mountain retreat deep in the Alps is a far cry from the hot and humid tropical conditions they will have to weather in Brazil as the three-time winners seek to end their title drought.

But the focus is firmly on becoming the first non-South American team to win a World Cup on that continent. “The greed for the World Cup trophy is there,” captain Philipp Lahm said ahead of their departure for northern Italy, site of their pre-World Cup preparations in 1990 when they last won the trophy.

“We have the punch to win the title but we have to be careful that the talent and ego of each of us serves the team. We need heart and passion in Brazil,” he told a newspaper.

Lahm will skip training at the secluded football pitch surrounded by a high cloth-covered fences at the five-star hotel for at least five days as he recovers from an ankle injury picked up in the German Cup final on Saturday.

“I do not want to be eliminated in the semis or travel to Brazil for the sun,” said the 30-year-old, preparing for his third World Cup. “I have a clear goal and that is obviously the biggest possible success which is the World Cup trophy.”

Loew will also be without first choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at the start with the player wearing a sling following a shoulder injury in the same game.       (Reuters)