Created on 02-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Miroslav Klose had no real reason to skirt the jostling throng of reporters and camera crews as he passed through the Mixed Zone at the Veltins Arena on his way to the Bayern team bus. Perhaps he never intended to, but at that very moment, the media only had eyes and lenses for a beaming and happily loquacious Uli Hoeneß. It would certainly have been interesting to hear Klose himself describe the decisive incident after 14 minutes of Saturday's match.
Following a slick passing move and Franck Ribéry's cut-back from the dead-ball line, Klose forced the ball between the posts with his stomach from two yards out. What turned out to be the only goal of the game was enough to hand Bayern their fist away victory against Schalke 04 for a decade, and keep the men in red firmly on course for a 21st German championship title.
Klose tops Bundesliga rankings
The goal was assuredly vital to the club as a whole, but the fact it fell to Klose was more than merely icing on the cake. "Given what we're aiming at, we need Miro to be scoring," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently declared.
Klose, who also netted in the reverse fixture against the Royal Blues, is currently the Bundesliga's most prolific marksman with 107 goals in 229 matches. His tenth goal of the season marked the end of a persistent league drought, as he had gone 647 minutes on the field since his previous strike at home to VfL Wolfsburg on 24 November.
Hoeneß always happy with Klose
"The goals dry up occasionally for every striker," acknowledged Ottmar Hitzfeld. The Bayern coach will have been exceptionally pleased that Klose rediscovered his scoring touch in such a vital match. "I'm delighted for him," commented Hoeneß, insisting Klose should never by judged merely on his goals total: "That's just a media invention. Miro's actually not played badly in any of our recent games. He's always covered a huge amount of ground and worked hard for the team.“
"Klose is always tightly marked, because our opponents understand how good he is," observed Hamit Altintop ahead of the Schalke clash. "Strikers have phases where every shot goes in, and then phases when it doesn't go that well. But he'll start scoring again very soon. There's not a lot more to say.“