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Germany v Poland

Clash with extra spice for Klose and Podolski

Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose will need to confine themselves to the German tongue on Sunday, as calls such as “lewo“ (left), “prawo“ (right) or “dawaj“ (pass) will be all too intelligible to the defenders when Germany meet Poland in the countries’ Euro 2008 opener. “I have a Polish heart,” admitted Podolski, like Klose a frequent visitor to relatives in eastern Europe. The Bayern pair and former Munich man Piotr Trochowski were all born in Poland, so the clash at the Wörtherseestadion in Klagenfurt has very special significance for the Germany trio.

However, during Sunday’s crucial encounter, family ties will count for nothing. “Once it starts, I’ll be desperate to win,” declared Podolski, who frequently communicates with Klose in Polish. Hamburg midfielder Trochowski is almost certain to be named among the subs, but the Munich pair are likely starters.

Imported strike force

There is no doubting the strike duo’s credentials: Klose has scored 39 goals in 75 international appearances, while Podolski has 25 in just 48 matches. However, neither has scored against the country of his birth, as (Swiss-born) Oliver Neuville struck the only goal of the game when the countries crossed swords at the 2006 World Cup, the only meeting between the sides to feature the Bayern pair to date.

Although the Germany trio’s footballing allegiance was established when they were still practically kids, many Polish fans would rather see the men born in Oppeln (Klose), Gleiwitz (Podolski) and Tczew (Trochowski) plying their trade in red rather than white shirts. Poland coach Leo Beenhakker remains a realist. “It would obviously be tremendous to have them in the Polish national team, but we have to accept the situation,” the respected Dutchman advised.

Play, then party

Poldi, a close follower of the Polish football scene via satellite TV who turned 23 this week, has said victory on Sunday would be the best possible late present. Klose is also hoping for a three-point celebration: on board the Germany charter flight from Klagenfurt back to the Ascona tournament base, he is hoping to start his 30th birthday as a goal-scoring winner. He marked his 28th birthday two years ago with a brace in the World Cup opening match – possibly a very good omen for Sunday.