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Emre Can Key to Germany’s U21 European Championship Hopes

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can will be key to Germany’s hopes at the U21 European Championships, which kick off on Wednesday. Danny Ings and England get their start a day later.

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Liverpool’s summer transfer dealings in 2014 were something of a mixed bag. Of the club’s £117M outlay, it’s likely at least half was poorly spent. One would be hard pressed at the very least to find a fan who wouldn’t take back the £36M spent on Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli if given the chance—and many saw those moves as foolish even while they were being made.

On the other hand, though, there were some standouts purchased in the summer of 2014, and none more than Emre Can, who cost a mere £10M when Liverpool exploited a loophole in his contract and triggered his release from Bayer Leverkusen. After a stellar season for the Reds, he will be a key part of the Germany set-up at the European U21 Championships that kick off tomorrow afternoon.

"I did not go to Liverpool just to play football," said Can in an interview with the German national team’s website. "I want to win titles there, and first I want to win something with the U21s here. My experience with Liverpool has been very good, and the youth work they do in England is very good—the English U21 side is a really good team, and favourites, so hopefully we won’t have to play against them."

Having been drawn to different groups, the only way the two countries would meet would be in the semi-finals or finals—with the finals most likely for the two favoured sides at the tournament. The Germans are favourites in the weaker Group A, which also has the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Serbia. Group B, with England, Italy, Portugal, and Sweden could see the favoured English pushed hard by Italy.

"We are very well prepared for the other teams," added Can, who after a season spent moving around and filling numerous roles at Liverpool is expected to start in midfield for the Germans this summer. "We’re ahead of the game, have watched a lot of video, and know the character of the other teams well."

The 2015 European U21 Championships kick off tomorrow with the host Czechs taking on Denmark in the afternoon before Emre Can and Germany face Serbia at 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST. BT Sport will carry the match in the UK while ESPN 3 provide coverage in the United States. Germany will then face Denmark on Saturday and the Czechs next Tuesday to round out group play.

On Thursday, Danny Ings and England get their chance to impress against Portugal at 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST, with BT Sport and ESPN 3 again carrying the match. England then face Sweden on Sunday and Italy next Wednesday. The top two countries in each group will advance to a semi-final on the 27th of June. For a full listing of the upcoming games and television providers, visit LiveSoccerTV.