Created on 01-08-2008 at 00:00 AM
Japanese reporters, an interpreter, TV crews, microphones and studio lights all crowded in on Lukas Podolski after Thursday’s match in Tokyo. The player politely answered all the questions put to him before excusing himself with a grin and an “Arigato! Arigato!” (thank you). Podolski was required elsewhere, to collect his award.
Following Bayern’s 4-2 friendly victory over Urawa Red Diamonds, Podolski was named Man of the Match and collected a cheque to the value of €3,000, which he promptly donated to a children’s hospital in Saitama. “You’re always pleased when someone has a good game,” Jürgen Klinsmann said in praise, “that’ll be a real boost to Lukas’s confidence.“
Poldi netted a brace and had a major hand in another of Munich’s goals. “Obviously I’m delighted,” he commented, “but we can’t read too much into the match.“ The player reckons he is beginning to rediscover his form, but it would be “two or three weeks“ before the Euro 2008 stars were anywhere near back to their peak. “We have to keep on working.“
Podolski certainly gave convincing evidence of his improving form at the Saitama Soccer Stadium. “Lukas has taken on board the message that he needs to seize the initiative and carry the fight to his two rivals in the battle for a place. He started giving the right arguments today, with goals,” a clearly approving Klinsmann said.
Understanding with Klose
The head coach was similarly pleased with Miroslav Klose, who recorded a goal of his own and a fine assist in Saitama: “It was good to see how Lukas and Miro went looking for each other. They both covered distances you’d never expect, given our fitness levels after such a short time back in training.“
Goals sometimes move metaphorical mountains in football, Klinsmann knows from his own personal experience. “I was a striker myself,” he reflected, “strikers only really get going once they start scoring. You automatically feel more confident, running becomes easier, you’re mentally focused.“ And you close in on a place in the team…