Miroslav Klose: ‘I’m not saying Italians are lazy – they always mean to give their all’
There is a mole. Right at the top of the Nationalmannschaft. Or somewhere in the playing and coaching staff anyway. Joachim Löw briefly ditched his amicable persona this week when his team for the quarter-final against Greece was leaked to the press several hours before its official announcement. He will get limited sympathy from most onlookers, however. The mole in the Germany camp has so far proved to be the only hiccup in an otherwise seamless progression to the latter stages of the tournament.
Besides, the DFB have their own spy at work ahead of the semi-final with Italy tonight. After just one season in Serie A, Miroslav Klose has already become something of a cult hero at SS Lazio, and he has come to know the Italians quite well.
“There are obviously cultural differences between us and the Italians. I’m not saying they’re lazy – they always mean to give their all. Whether they always do or not is another matter,” he told the German press in Gdansk this week, with a mischievous grin, “I think the Italian way of doing things is good. They’re a bit more laid back, a bit more relaxed, and that could give them a slight advantage going into a game like this.”
Where once there was a host of German superstars gracing the stadiums of Serie A, Klose, who scored 16 goals for Lazio last season, including a 93rd minute winner in the Rome derby, is now the sole representative of the Nationalelf in Italian club football. Having been decisively usurped by Mario Gómez at FC Bayern, Klose’s switch to Serie A last summer has allowed him to remain hot on Gómez’s heels when it comes to the national team.
Whether or not he will start ahead of Gómez against Italy, as he did against Greece, remains unknown until Löw – or the mole – decides otherwise, but Klose’s claim to a place in the starting eleven remains as strong as ever. Despite their favourites tag, there is a certain degree of caution with which Germany approach Thursday night’s game. Italy are an opponent who have traditionally made a habit of beating the Germans in major competitions, and Klose’s inside knowledge might well have a role to play if revenge is to be served, albeit somewhat cold.
Klose himself has been on the end of the Italian sword. Germany’s “fairytale summer” of 2006 was ended in the semi-finals by the eventual tournament winners Italy. The German side, he says, has changed a lot since then, however: “We’ve got a lot more young players now, and are a much stronger attacking force. We’ve got weapons with which we can hurt the Italians.”
If Klose is Germany’s elder statesman moreover, it is his Italian opposite number, Andrea Pirlo, who he sees as his opponent’s greatest weapon: “For Juventus and for the national team he is equally excellent. He’s extremely secure in possession and plays some wonderful passes. He’s very dangerous”.
Even despite the apparently “peerless Pirlo”, however, it is Germany who many expect to progress to the final. For Klose, who is now only four goals away from Gerd Mueller’s all time record for Germany, this could be the last chance to do the one thing he has never done in a Germany shirt – get his hands on a trophy. To do so this year of all years, when half the tournament has been played in his country of birth, would be particularly fitting.
First, however, the Germans need to break the hoodoo, and beat the Italians. Then and only then can Miroslav Klose, who has served his country so well in so many major tournaments, begin to dream of the perfect climax to a near perfect career.Tagged in: euro 2012, football, germany, Italy, Semi-final
Recent Posts on Football
- A changing of the guards in English football: From Sir Alex Ferguson to Jose Mourinho
- Nike kit deal puts England at No 2 in the world (but which country is top?)
- PSG and the French league must be more proactive in dealing with hooliganism
- The ghost at the feast: Luiz Felipe Scolari hopes that dropping Ronaldinho for the Confederations Cup won't come back to haunt Brazil
- Anthony Knockaert and other examples of sporting justice
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter