GERMANY coach Joachim Loew insists that his nation's status as world champions will count for nothing in their crucial Euro 2016 battles with Ireland and Poland over the next week.
The Germans take on Poland in Warsaw on Saturday ahead of their home tie with Ireland in Gelsenkirchen next Tuesday and while Loew, whose side began the campaign with an unconvincing win at home to Scotland, talks of Germany using this double header as a "cushion" for the rest of the campaign, he remains wary.
"The two games in October are important for us, if we do well against Poland and then Ireland we will be able to build up a good lead and it's a good opportunity for us," said Loew (right) as the German squad assembled yesterday for training.
"But we are only at the start of a long journey and no one will have qualified after just three games. We are world champions but that will not win us games.
"Scotland have already shown that we have tough opponents in this group so we will respect Poland and also Ireland.
"The Irish play with real effort, enthusiasm and passion and we cannot underestimate any of our opponents," he added.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira missing for this double header the Germans are looking for a new captain and Loew has confirmed that Manuel Neuer will skipper the side in the battles with Ireland and Poland.
The Poland-Germany game in Warsaw will see Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowksi line up against many of his team-mates at club level and a German success in Poland could very much depend on how they deal with Lewandowksi, who has scored 23 times in his 64 games for the national side.
"Poland are not a one-man team, it's not enough just to stop Lewandowski, we have to work against their whole team," said Loew.
Lewandowski scored twice at the weekend for Bayern in their 4-0 Bundesliga win over Hannover.