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Belief returns

Confident Klose talks systems and texts

Miroslav Klose finished top scorer at the 2006 World Cup, but the striker has not had an especially memorable 2008 at Bayern with just six goals in three club competitions, way off his team-mate Luca Toni, who netted 22 times in the same period. Klose fared better for Germany with three goals in three Euro 2008 warm-up matches, but he failed to open his account at the tournament’s group stage.

However, the 30-year-old broke his duck with the second in Germany’s thrilling 3-2 quarter-final victory over Portugal, nodding home from close range to set his side on the way to the semi-finals, and restore a lot of his missing good humour as well.

Klose benefits from revised formation

The media had been quick to draw unfavourable parallels with Germany’s disastrous Euro 2004 campaign, but all such thoughts have now been banished. “I’m delighted the lads and I finally played some good football against Portugal,” a visibly relieved Klose declared afterwards, burning with desire to add to his total when the Germans meet the Turks next week.

Klose was one of the main beneficiaries of coach Joachim Löw’s decision to play a 4-2-3-1 formation. “With that system, the lone striker doesn’t have to track back as much. The job instead is to preoccupy the centre-halves, and that was my main task,” the player reported, “I felt good about being the only striker.”

Hard times for FCB goal-getters

“I was told to drag my markers from one side to the other, and hold the ball up as often as possible,” Klose continued. That role is filled by Luca Toni for world champions Italy, but the Bundesliga’s leading scorer similarly failed to hit the target in his country’s three group fixtures.

That means Klose is 1-0 up in a personal head-to-head bet with his club colleague, with a fine meal the reward for the winner. “Luca gets to choose how many courses when he pays up,” Klose quipped before the tournament.

Text messages with Toni and Altintop

He has now received a text message from Toni, Klose revealed, complaining about “problems with his best friend”. That prompted a few puzzled expressions until the next message arrived a few moments later: “He wrote that the ball is his best friend, and it’s not doing what he wants it to.“

Klose also reported he had “texted” with club colleague and Turkey star Hamit Altintop, “and I praised him to the skies,” he revealed. “Hamit is Turkey’s best player at the tournament. I’m thrilled for him and it’ll be a very tough game for us, although we obviously intend to win,” Klose commented with an eye on Wednesday’s meeting in Basel.

Trochowski gaining experience

Klose’s Germany and former Bayern team-mate Piotr Trochowski felt the power of the striker’s new-found confidence on Saturday when the pair played a few games of tennis. “I’ll leave you to guess for yourselves who won,” Miro grinned. Trochowski had also gained from the match, “but only in terms of experience“.