Lviv (Ukraine): Germany coach Joachim Loew said his inexperienced team must prove themselves under pressure when they open their Euro 2012 campaign against Portugal in Group B on Saturday.

With an average age of just over 24, Loew has the youngest team at the European championships with nine players playing their first tournament and only six survivors in the 23-man squad from the one Loew took to Euro 2008.

Germany are considered one of the favourites for the Euro title having reached the final four years ago and finished third at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

But Loew admits questions about how his team will cope at Euro 2012 will only be answered against Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal.

"We are a young team without much experience, we have nine players who haven't played a tournament yet, and a lot who have played just one," said the 52-year-old.

"Yes, most of our players have played a few international games, but a tournament is something different.

"You face situations where things can change suddenly and you are put under enormous pressure.

"We lost the second group game at both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup and you can never forecast how a young player will react in a high-pressure environment like that.

"But I have often said I like youth, quality and dynamism. I value that over experience."

Having played his first tournament at the 2010 World Cup, midfielder Thomas Mueller, 22, said the Germans must start strong before facing Holland in Kharkiv, Ukraine, next Wednesday in their next Group B match.

"Every game is very important, you can't afford to slip up," he said.

"It's important to have a good start to avoid being under pressure for the Netherlands match."

Having launched a charm offensive since arriving at their Euro 2012 base in Poland, Germany scored a public relations own-goal on Friday.

Germany's assistant coach Hansi Flick later apologised after suggesting the Germans should "wear steel helmets and stand tall" to cope with the threat of Portugal's dead-ball expert Cristiano Ronaldo.

For Euro 2012, Germany are based in Gdansk, the city where the opening shots of World War II were fired by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime on September 1 1939.


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