Klose is committed to the DFB team

Miroslav Klose was not to be unnerved. Calm and relaxed he was standing at Weser Stadium, his former home pitch, which he got to know by heart when he played with SV Werder Bremen from 2004 until 2007. Shortly before the German national team had lost their first international friendly prior to the 2012 UEFA European Championship 2-1 (1-0) to France. But that held no worries for the 33-year-old.

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Miroslav Klose in his 114th international match for Germany, against France (1-2) in Bremen on 29 February 2012. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


“I am convinced that whenever something is at stake our team will be ready and can play very good football”, said Klose. He had led the German eleven onto the pitch as captain in his 114th international match, due to the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm. Klose had to be substituted due to ankle problems at the half-time break. Mario Gomez, who replaced him, encountered greater problems with the French, who remained undefeated in their 17th successive match and assessed their victory over Germany as a great success. Coach Laurent Blanc said Germany were a top level opponent.

Klose totally agrees. It is not just his belief that the perennial dream of winning a title could come true at the tournament of the European Football Association, UEFA, from 8 June-1 July: “We are all convinced that we will play a good European Championship. But luck is always something you need”, said Klose. He knows from experience that international friendly matches at the beginning of a year do not really disclose anything about the strength of a team.

German team have a record of weak results before a tournament

Prior to Klose’s first major tournament, the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the German team, directed by coach Rudi Voeller, lost 1-0 to Argentina in Stuttgart in April, and by the same score to Wales in May. A 6-2 win over Austria in the dress rehearsal was then followed by the thumping 8-0 victory against Saudi Arabia in the World Cup opener, the highest victory ever recorded by a DFB team in a tournament. Klose, who then still played with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, scored a hat-trick in both matches.

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Miroslav Klose earned his 13th cap for Germany during the 2002 World Cup. He scored with three headers during the 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Sapporo. (Photo: Kunz/Augenklick)


Prior to the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, Germany also lost a final friendly match. The game in Kaiserslautern on 6 June, planned as a commemoration match -- “50 Years On From The Miracle of Berne” to mark the 1954 World Cup triumph – brought a 2-0 defeat to Hungary. At that European Championship tournament the team never found their form and were eliminated after the preliminary round. Voeller, who had made Klose an international, resigned as team manager of the German Football Association, DFB.

In 2006 there was great cause for concern when the first international match of the year resulted in a 4-1 loss to Italy in Florence on 1 March. Three months prior to the World Cup at home the team seemed totally unprepared, but at the tournament it was Klose who saved Germany, with his header against Argentina achieving the penalty shoot-out which eventually led into the semi-finals. Germany won the bronze medal, and Klose was top scorer at the World Cup finals.

The 2-2 draw with Belarus, which also took place at Kaiserslautern prior to the 2008 European Championship, brought sobering thoughts. But then the DFB team made it into the European final. Same story in 2010 when another negative result before the World Cup in South Africa saw the team coached by Joachim Loew lose 1-0 to Argentina in Munich. Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller, now regular players, made their debut in that match. The team enjoyed an excellent tournament, although captain Michael Ballack was injured and could not play, and shortly before the start goalkeeper Rene Adler had to be replaced by Manuel Neuer. And Klose, who had then turned 31, performed brilliantly. He scored a memorable goal during the 4-1 victory over England in the second round, and two during the 4-0 over Argentina in the quarter-final.

In 1990 defeat by France was followed by the World Cup title

A glance further back in the archives may convey further hope, although a run of 10 matches without defeat was broken by France in Bremen on 29 February. In 1990, when the German team gained their last World Cup title, the year didn’t begin well either. The team coached by Franz Beckenbauer lost 2-1 to France in Montpellier on 28 February. “If that’s not a good omen”, suggested Wolfgang Niersbach, the new DFB President, who then was the media officer.

“We will not process just the 2-1 loss to France, but also many other matches”, said Klose in Bremen before he started his return journey to Rome. At the beginning of the season he had moved from Bayern Munich to Lazio Rome, where he performs outstandingly. Lazio have made it into the top group with Polish-born Klose, who has been a German for many years. Klose is revered by the Lazio fans and celebrated by the media. At the age of 33 he produces fantastic athletic performances. Additionally he is dangerous in front of goal and a good passer for his team-mates.

It is now only a question of time before the second-best international German scorer can surpass long-time leader Gerd Mueller. Klose is just five goals behind the former “Bomber of the Nation”. Mueller has 68 goals to his record, a number to which Klose takes his hat off to. “I’ll never overtake Gerd because of his achievement. It is incredible to score so many goals in just 62 matches. The bomber will always remain the bomber”.

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On the first weekend in March, Klose played in the hottest match of the Italian Serie A -- the 170th Roman Derby between Lazio and AS. In the first leg Klose had scored the winning goal for 2-1 shortly before the final whistle; Lazio had previously lost five duels. Lazio also won the away match 2-1 and are now in third position. Though Klose didn’t score, he was the key player. When he was fouled by the AS goalkeeper early in the match, Stekelenburg was sent off and Lazio was awarded a penalty to take a 1-0 lead. Goals are not so important to “Miro”, he only wants to lead his teams to success – first Lazio into the Champions League, then the German national team as far as possible at the European Championship.

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Miroslav Klose (centre) in Lazio Rome’s shirt during the derby against AS Rome, in which he scored the winner for 2-1 in the autumn of 2011. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)