By Nick Ames in Kharkiv
Per Mertesacker was delighted with Germany’s 2-1 win over their fierce rivals Holland on Wednesday - but he knows that their job isn’t done yet.
Joachim Low’s side are on the verge of qualifying for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after making it six points out of six against the Dutch, and the Arsenal defender is content that the ‘Nationalmannschaft’ is establishing a consistent level of performance.
Speaking to Arsenal.com after the game, Mertesacker said: “We tried to keep our level after a great first win against Portugal and I think that, apart from the first 20 minutes, we played a great game.
“It was difficult early on, because Holland pressed high up - Robin [van Persie] had the first opportunity with his left foot and it was very close. This was a great win for us, because it was the second step.”
A draw against Denmark on Sunday would guarantee Germany’s progress in what is a very tight Group B, but Per is taking nothing for granted.
“This was the next step but not the final one to go through the group stage,” he said.
“Therefore we’ll do our best against Denmark. The group is very close and every team can go through - nothing’s happened for us yet, and we’ll have to give everything in our third match.”
Mertesacker is yet to add to his 81 caps in this tournament. Usually a mainstay of the side, the injury that laid him low between February and May has played a part in Low’s selection of Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber at centre back.
The Arsenal man accepts the situation, and in the meantime is keen to pass on his experience to a squad that is still quite raw in tournament terms.
“I try to do that,” he said. “We are a very young side, I think the youngest in the tournament, and therefore we need some experienced players. So I try to do my best - if not on the pitch, then off it.
“I’m getting better and better. Obviously I was out for three months, and the rehab was very hard. I didn’t play during that time, so the coach chose other players and I have to cope with it. We have a great team, so every position has more than one good player.”