Friedrich provides advice on shutting down Cristiano Ronaldo

The Chicago Fire defender is ready to sit back and watch his native Germany as they begins their Euro 2012 title run in the Group of Death, which includes Portugal
By Alex Labidou

Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich knows a bit about the high expectations of being a Germany international.

The 33-year-old has been capped 82 times for Die Mannschaft, including two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and Germany's Euro 2008 campaign. So it's no surprise that Friedrich will be paying full attention to his home nation as the the European Championship begins on Friday.

"I think Germany will do a very good job and I'm pretty confident that we will have a good tournament," Friedrich told "We'll see what happens."

Germany has been knocking at the door of several top competitions, hoping to pry away their first tournament triumph since 1996. But it won't be easy. The team has been drawn into the Group of Death with Portugal, Netherlands and Denmark.

And Friedrich understands that it will take more than talent alone to walk away with the title.

"You need luck. It's always the same when you play a tournament like that," Friedrich said. "It's very important that they win the first game against Portugal to get going in the tournament."

Analysing Group B, Friedrich believes that the Netherlands and Germany are superior to the rest of the group. He acknowledges that he doesn't know much about Denmark and believes that Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal isn't as good as the top two teams.

Holland and Germany are fierce rivals and Friedrich hopes that when the two meet in the final match of the group stages, the two sides will live up to the expectations.

"Both teams are motivated against each other but we'll see because it's the last game in the group," he said. "Anything can happen. It's important that Germany goes through the first round and then anything can happen in the tournament."

Winning Euro 2012 would be significant for Germany, according to Friedrich. In fact, he believes that lifting the trophy could almost be considered better than winning the World Cup.

"It's always pretty exciting and the mood is always pretty good. In my eyes, the European Championship is almost tougher to win than the World Cup," Friedrich stated. "In the World Cup, there are some teams that aren't that good. Europe is the best continent for playing football so the tension and the excitement rises day to day."

It all begins this weekend against Portugal, which features one of the world's best players.

One of Friedrich's career highlights was masterfully marking Ronaldo, the Real Madrid forward, during the 2008 Euros, with the former Ballon d'Or winner appearing visibly frustrated. Friedrich remembers his success covering Ronaldo and revealed what works best in defending him.

"It's dangerous to play him one versus one because he's so fast and very skilful," he said. "You can't predict his performance. The key is that you should defend him with two players like having [Philipp] Lahm or [Jerome] Boateng guard him with one of the midfield players who is covering him as well."

The success that Friedrich and Germany had against Ronaldo led to one conclusion by the defender.

"For me, it's [Lionel] Messi [who is the best player in the world]," he said.