Posts Tagged ‘Miroslav Klose’

Joachim Löw’s “cheeky” tinkering paid off as Germany cruised past Greece and into the Euro 2012 semi finals.

In stark contrast to the Eurozone, this was Germany progressing at the expense of the Greeks. The onlooking Angela Merkel must have revelled in the irony.

Löw made four changes to the starting XI that had defeated Denmark, with Jerome Boateng coming back in for Lars Bender, and Miroslav Klose, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle replacing Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller and Lukas Podolski.

It worked a treat, as goals from Klose and Reus, as well as Sami Khedira and captain Philipp Lahm helped Germany to a 4-2 win.

Germany dominated the opening exchanges, with Greece happy to sit back and defend. After having an early goal disallowed, it was a question of when, not if they’d score.

And when Lahm but them ahead with an excellent long-range effort after 39 minutes, it was a question of how many.

However, the next goal did not go the way of the Germans. A swift counter-attacking move from Greece ended with Georgios Samaras prodding home.

It was to be a brief respite though, with Germany back ahead just six minutes later. A ball from Boateng fell to Khedira, who had been quietly impressive once again, and he smashed it home with aplomb.

The game was well and truly over when Klose added to his already astonishing international recording, heading home a Mesut Özil corner for his 64th goal for die Mannschaft.

There was still time for Reus to get on the scoresheet, hammering the ball past a less-than-impressive Michalis Sifakis in the Greek net.

When Jerome Boateng handled in the area in the 89th minute, Dimitris Salpingidis stroked home the resulting penalty. It mattered not.

This was Germany’s most impressive performance to date, albeit against the weakest side they’ve faced. They will play either Italy or England in the semi final.

Given bringing in Klose, Reus and Schurrle was supposedly ‘weakening’ the side, I don’t think they’ll be too bothered who they have to face, and you’d expect them to continue their march to a possible repeat of Euro 2008s final with Spain.

Speaking to Uefa.com after the game, ‘Jogi’ Löw had this to say: “First of all, I would like to say it was a fantastic performance from our team. For the fourth time in a row, we have qualified for the semi-final of a major tournament. Nobody thought we could have done that back in 2004. We have won 15 games in a row. We are the youngest team at this tournament and have great prospects for the future. I am proud of my players. We absolutely deserved to win tonight.

“Greece scored two goals out of one chance. We were good from the start but perhaps the only thing I can say is that we didn’t take advantage of our chances early on. I was irritated at that stage and my emotions are expressed at times like that.

“After three wins here, I wasn’t dissatisfied with my team in the slightest, but I had been planning on making the changes to the lineup for a while. I thought we had to be unpredictable against Greece, because I felt they would be ready for us. It is good to be cheeky like that from time to time. I thought the plan worked out quite well. Looking ahead, I think the four teams in the semi-finals will be serious contenders for the title. We know from now on games of this magnitude are decided by small details, and we can’t allow a single mistake.”

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Germany will not be taking anything for granted as they look to secure their passage to the last-16 of Euro 2012 in their game against Denmark tonight.

The Germans top the group after winning both of their opening games – the only team in the tournament to do so – yet qualification is still not guaranteed.

If Portugal beat Holland, and Denmark win 2-1, then Joachim Löw’s men will surprisingly exit the competition.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “We have not qualified yet. It will be a tight, difficult match as Denmark too have hopes of reaching the last eight. Those who saw Denmark as outsiders before the tournament were wrong; we always knew they would be a threat as they’re compact and dangerous on the break.

“We will not underestimate them and I’ll not be letting anyone have a day off. If I make changes it will be because it’s beneficial for the team.”

Germany will be forced into making at least one change from the side that has won both opening games, with full back Jerome Boeteng suspended. He is likely to be replaced by either Benedikt Howedes or Lars Bender, although there is also the possibility captain Philipp Lahm could switch to right back.

Other changes to the starting XI seem unlikely, given both their form and what is at stake, but there is always a chance Löw will decide to rest some of his key players, with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus all hungry for a chance.

Whatever the line-up, it would be a major upset for Germany to lose this one. While stranger things have happened, my money would be them not only qualifying, but doing so as group winners.

Prediction: Germany 2-1 Denmark

Gomez (far left) and Klose (second from right): together on the pitch, but only one will start...

Who do you choose: the most prolific striker in Germany right now, or the most prolific in the last 30 years?

That’s the dilemma faced by Joachim Löw when it comes to deciding whether he starts with Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose at this summer’s European Championships.

On paper, there shouldn’t really be any contest. While Klose has been doing a pretty steady job at Lazio this season – with 16 goals in 33 appearances – he doesn’t come close to matching the form of Gomez.

The Bayern Munich frontman has 38 goals already this season, and has notched up an astonishing 77 goals in his last 78 games for The Bavarians.

However, on the international scene it is a different story. Klose boasts a record of 63 goals in 114 internationals, only five behind Gerd Muller’s all-time record.

He is also level with Muller in the list of World Cup goalscorers, both on 14 and just one behind the top-placed Ronaldo.

Gomez, meanwhile, has played for Germany at two major tournaments – Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup – and failed to score a single goal in either. He did score a fairly impressive six goals in Germany’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, but this was overshadowed by Klose, who scored nine.

It’s not just his big tournament prowess that gives Klose a potential edge. As Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox tells us, it’s about the partnerships he has created as well.

Cox said: “On form you choose Gomez – he’s been brilliant. But on history you choose Klose. [He] is fascinating because he has a good relationship with Podolski, with Ozil, and with Muller. All three possible attackers in the 4-2-3-1, which is amazing, there is no other striker in world football I’d say has particularly good relationships with three other players in the team, I honestly think it’s unique.

“It’s so rare to have great partnerships, trios and quartets in international football – it’s not wise to break them up if it’s not needed. And for that reason, I’d pick Klose.”

However, Stefan Bienkowski, founder of Bundesliga Football and Bundesliga writer for Four Four Two, believes Gomez should be leading the line at the Euros. He said: “Gomez hasn’t had the best luck with Germany and his inability on the international stage has perhaps entirely contrasted with Klose’s record breaking form with the national side.

“Despite all this, I think Löw would be a mad man to ignore the progress Gomez has made at Bayern this season. I’d certainly choose the Bayern striker, but you never know!”

Who do you think should get the nod? Vote below…

Many watched in wonder as Germany destroyed England and then Argentina at the 2010 World Cup.

Back then it was only Spain – who also defeated Germany in the final of Euro 2008 – who could stop Die Mannschaft.

Spain were, of course, the best team in the world and were recognised as such by winning the tournament.

Whilst they’re still favourites for Euro 2012, they should be worried. Because Germany are even better than they were two years ago.

This view was expanded on by Michael Cox, editor of Zonal Marking, who said: “Three months ago I thought they were favourites. Now I think Spain are ‘faves’ again, although I think they’re less complete than many think.

“Holland are either very average or ruthlessly efficient – I couldn’t decide at the WC, I can’t decide now. Germany are second favourites, I think.”

Out have gone Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich – the weak spots of the 2010 side – and in are Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, two of the most talented young centre backs in world football.

Manuel Neuer, very good back then, is now probably in the top three goalkeepers around, while at the other end Mario Gomez has been an absolute goal machine.

It is in midfield, however, that Germany has an embarrassment of riches.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira ran the show from midfield in 2010, despite being just 25 and 22 respectively.

Schweinsteiger has had injury problems of late, but he should be fit and firing come the Euros, and if that is the case then he will again be the heartbeat of the side. Khedira, meanwhile, hasn’t enjoyed the success of his compatriot Mesut Ozil since they both made the move to Real Madrid, but his experience in South Africa should stand him in good stead.

Khedira’s spot is likely to come under threat from Toni Kroos, who has been a revelation for Bayern in the absence of Schweinsteiger and is developing into a top class playmaker. Euro 2012 could well do for Kroos what the World Cup did for Khedira. Then there are the Bender twins, Lars and Sven, who have been in great form for their clubs.

The midfielders playing ahead of those, if – as expected – Germany keep with their 4-2-3-1 fomation are an equally mouthwatering, jaw-dropping array of talent.

There’s the aforementioned Ozil, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s season as they have demolished all in their path in La Liga. Thomas Muller – top scorer at the World Cup two years ago isn’t in the best form, but that’s unlikely to make much difference and he’s still a big part of the side.

Lukas Podolski is, at 26, enjoying his best ever season in the Bundesliga and likely to move to Arsenal in the summer. Given his age, his record of 43 goals in 95 internationals is staggering.

Then there’s Mario Gotze, one of, if not the hottest property in world football – and he isn’t even guaranteed a start.

An unbelievable arsenal in both attack and defence, and I haven’t even mentioned the captain Philipp Lahm or Miroslav Klose – the latter is just five goals away from equaling Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals for Germany.

Then there’s Marco Reus, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Andre Schurrle and more. The hardest part of Löw’s job will be fitting all these players into a 23-man squad and then finding his best XI.

And if he gets that right, then he and the rest of the Germany are likely to be celebrating a fourth European Championship success.