‘Elfmeter’ Experts Germany Looking Ominous

Marco Reich has a cunning plan to help Germany win this summer’s Star Sixes at The O2, London, in July – get through the Group of Death, play it tight in the knockout stages and then win the penalty shoot-outs as usual!

Reich, the former Kaiserslautern midfielder who also played for Crystal Palace and Derby County, knows that Germany enjoy their reputation as ‘Elfmeter’ experts after their exploits in major tournaments over the years.

Michael Ballack’s Star Sixes squad is now taking shape, with former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann joined by midfielders Reich and Simon Rolfes plus speedy winger David Odonkor, who were all unveiled today.

And as he looks forward to a competition that includes England, Italy, Spain and Brazil among others, Reich knows Germany must first get past France, Portugal and Denmark in Group C which has already been dubbed the ‘Group of Death’.

“Yes, the name of the group is probably true, but there are plenty of other good sides at Star Sixes and we have to be prepared to take them on. I’ve played against the Portuguese side recently and they are very, very good.

“But I hope we can win Star Sixes. With Germany, we are always in with a chance in the big tournaments because we know how to win – make sure you don’t concede goals and then win on penalties!”

More seriously, he is relishing the prospect of linking up again with Ballack. “We started our careers together at Kaiserslautern as teenagers, and won the title in Germany, so they are great memories. Even then you could see that he was going to be a great player,” adds Reich.

He is also looking forward to facing some of the great names of world football such as Roberto Carlos, Deco, Steven Gerrard and Luis García. The latter two won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, but a few months later were beaten by lowly Palace in the League Cup, with Reich scoring the winning goal. “That was a special moment for me, although I am sure the Liverpool boys have forgotten it. But if we beat them at Star Sixes, I will remind them.”

He admits to feeling “very honoured” to be selected and added: “It will be a fantastic event. I really enjoyed my time with Palace. London is a great city, The O2 is a fantastic arena so the atmosphere will be superb.

“Most importantly it will be a great occasion for the fans to celebrate some wonderful skills. And hopefully Germany will win on penalties!”

Marco Reich, Simon Rolfes and David Odonkor are the latest signings for Star Sixes, a new international six-a-side tournament at The O2, London, 13-16 July. Tickets available at Ticketmaster or AXS.