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Germany's "fun faction" feel no pressure

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, June 7 (Reuters) Germany's young guns insist they feel no pressure ahead of the opening World Cup game on Friday, despite the expectations that come with being host nation.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and striker Lukas Podolski, both 21, made a laid-back appearance before the media just two days before the Germans play Costa Rica in Munich.

''Of course many people expect us to go far and there's a lot of talk, and people thinking about it, but I personally don't feel under any pressure,'' said Bayern Munich's Schweinsteiger.

''I'm totally relaxed,'' added Podolski, who turned 21 on Sunday.

''We just have to blow away the Costa Ricans.'' Podolski and Schweinsteiger, who is sporting a mohican-style haircut for the finals, are leading members of a group of young players in coach Juergen Klinsmann's squad whose uninhibited attitude has earned them the nickname ''the fun faction''.

The two will pay alongside each other in club football next season as Podolski has agreed to join Bayern from Cologne.

Asked if they felt some sense of responsibility, the pair seemed slightly baffled, even though they are playing for a home nation of 80 million people which takes its football seriously.

''We have many players with us who will take on responsibility, who are older, who have played at a World Cup,'' said Schweinsteiger.

''If the coach wants us to take on responsibility, we'll do it of course, but I don't think that'll be the case,'' he added.

The pair's relaxed attitude is not confined to press conferences.

Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was asked if they were as laid-back among the team as they were with the media.

''Yes, in fact, they're even more laid-back,'' he said.

REUTERS DH RAI1903

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