Germany's national soccer coach Joachim Loew (Photo: Reuters)
Germany coach Joachim Loew is relishing the world champions' "week of truth" in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign when they host Group D leaders Poland on Friday before playing Scotland away.
Germany, who have 13 points from their six qualifiers so far, find themselves in the unusual position of being second behind Poland (14) in the table and just two ahead of Scotland (11), who they play in Glasgow on Monday.
Back-to-back victories over their main rivals would give Loew's side control of the group, while defeat to Poland would be a significant setback for Germany with only three more games to follow.
The state of affairs represents a special challenge, rather than pressure, according to Loew, even though the Germans are used to strolling through the qualifiers for previous major finals undefeated.
"We are in arrears with the points, which is why we are in our week of truth," said Loew.
"We don't stand with our backs to the wall, it's all in our own hands and we want to pick up maximum points."
"It's a special challenge, I don't feel the pressure.
"For us, it's a different position than in previous years, we are no longer in pole position.
"But we are happy to be in a situation that demands we play decisive matches, it's a motivation for us."
The two key tasks facing Loew's Germany are to break down the tight Polish defence, which has leaked just three goals in six games, and to "prevent Poland counter-attacking, which they are very, very good at doing", according to Loew.
Likewise, the Germans must fix their leaky defence and, while Loew conceded there has been a drop in concentration since winning last year's World Cup, his players must now deliver.
Loew suffered a blow on Thursday when Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus, arguably Germany's best playmaker, was forced to withdraw from both games with a broken big toe.
"It's regrettable and, of course, I don't like to be without him, because Marco is a player who can do things in key moments on attack," rued Loew.
"I won't be able to play him, but we won't be calling anyone else up."
Mario Goetze, who has spent the last two seasons mainly on the bench at Bayern Munich, will play as Germany's lone striker while Arsenal's attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil will start, despite a mild knee injury, which Loew says is "no problem".
Poland, led by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, are the only unbeaten team in the group after their 2-0 shock victory over Germany in Warsaw last October.
After defender Jerome Boateng insisted "there can be no excuses", the message from the Germany camp is clear
"We want to show the Poles from the outset that there is nothing to pick up," added Loew.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)