Germany was handed a lesson by world champions Brazil on the weekend when they opened their World League campaign in Sao Paolo with successive defeats 3-0, 3-1 in front of around 20,000 enthusiastic Brazilian fans.
"We really showed this weekend where we are at present and we have our feet back on the ground," German coach Stelian Moculescu said. "There were those who thought that we were further advanced but when we don't learn to defend ourselves we are going to have big problems at the European Championships.
"It is a pity that with Brazil and Italy we have such tough competitors in our group and that makes us have only a minimal chance of making the final round." Only the top two from each group qualify for the finals in Madrid.
Next weekend Germany meet Portugal in what could prove a more rewarding time after Portugal, who placed eighth at the 2002 World Championship, suffered two 3-0 defeats at the hands of Italy last weekend.
The German team managed to at least take one set off the World Champions in the second match after they failed to defend three set balls in the first match. "I was really annoyed about that, it made angry," German wing-spiker Marco Liefke said. "You have the opposition in your clutches and then you throw away the chance with mishaps and some bad luck."
Leifke, Germany's main attacking weapon, had little luck on the net against the strong blocking of the Brazilians and in the second match Christian Pampel proved more effective in this role.
Speaking form the team hotel German skipper Wolfgang Kuck said, "we simply have to be better with our serving, this would have stopped the Brazilians setting in place their quick style of place". The 35-year-old veteran went to Brazil as captain in place of Stefan Hübner who is at home nursing a knee ligament problem.
In the second match the German team was only able to partly put their plan into effect because Brazil were defending at the highest level.
In the second set in the second match even though they were leading 22-17 the team looked nervous but in the end they held their nerves because Pampel attacked strongly and Kuck served extremely well.
Georg Wiebel, who plays professionally in Belgium, did well as a middle blocker while Norbert Walter, who is 2.08m tall, was not able to play after having to consult doctor due to conjunctivitis.