Created on 08-06-2012 at 00:00 AM
Germany boss Joachim Löw is spoiled for choice as he contemplates his side to face Portugal in Saturday's Euro 2012 clash. The formation will be the standard 4–2–3–1, but who will be the lone striker? Will it be Miroslav Klose, who is just five short of Gerd Müller's record 68 goals for his country, or could it be FCB man Mario Gomez, who has eight goals in his last ten internationals?
“I have a good feeling. This time, it's more difficult for the coach than ever before," said Gomez on the eve of the Group B clash. Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the 26-year-old said he was confident of starting against Portugal. “I know the papers have been saying for a long time that the decision’s been taken and it'll be Miro," Gomez said, “but it's not that clear cut in my opinion – and not for the coach either, or so he told me. That gives me hope."
The Munich man is in upbeat spirits ahead of the tournament, and is more than happy to duke it out with his former FCB team-mate Klose, who will be 34 on Saturday. “I'm in great shape, I'm physically top fit and I'm giving it everything in training, just as I've been doing for the last two years," continued Gomez, scorer of 80 goals for Bayern over the last two seasons.
Fair and sporting rivalry
The rivalry between the two top strikers has been entirely fair and purely on a sporting basis, Mario emphasised. “Both of us are far too human to let a problem arise from sporting rivalry," he said, “I'm neither a robot nor a rat. I know how it works in sport and I have a realistic assessment of myself. And Miro is just as much of a sportsman as I am, so he'll do whatever he can to claim the place."
“He’s always delivered at tournaments," Gomez acknowledged, “and knowing a player does well at tournaments is a useful fixed point for a coach." Former Munich forward Klose, who joined Rome giants Lazio at the start of last season, has made 116 international appearances in the last 11 years, and lies second only to Brazil's Ronaldo in the all-time World Cup finals scoring chart with 14 goals.
“Both of them play to a very high standard," Löw told kicker magazine prior to the tournament, “and I've yet to take a decision about who'll play centre forward in the first group match." In fact, the Germany coach declined to rule out fielding both players at the same time: “Two strikers could be our plan B."