Miroslav Klose feiert seinen 16. WM-Treffer und schreibt damit Sportgeschichte beim Sieg gegen Brasilien. Screenshot

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In front of Ronaldo’s eyes – Will Klose break the World Cup goal record against Brazil?

It could have been the match for Miroslav Klose in the ultimate spotlight. Hang off Ronaldo in the historical FIFA World Cup Goal Ranking and stop the host nation of 2014’s tournament, but since the painful World Cup end of Neymar Brazil has other worries than statistics. It is even not for sure that Löw’s scoring machine will start against the Selecoa. An image you still need to get used to.

By David Nienhaus and Francois Duchateau

If it wouldn’t take place exactly like it, you probably would have drawn it that way. A scene that is worth to make history. The German football national team against host Brazil in the semi final of the FIFA World Cup 2014 – and in the focus the 36 year old Miroslav Klose.

Even if the German Football Association underlines their team spirit, that is currently visibly in their base Campo Bahia in Santo Andre, the central question on tuesday will be – next to the question who will enter the World Cup final – if Klose will break the goal record of Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. Ronaldo is retiree and only can watch what will happen to his World Cup goal record. 15 times the former Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan striker scored at four World Cup tournaments. In the meantime the German, who was born in Poland, has reached the same numbers after scoring the 2:2 against Ghana – with his first touch.

From full time goalscorer to golden joker

Klose came in that 2nd group match from the bench. Times change. For a long time you could not imagine a German team without the attacker. But now Klose has become from a full time goal scorer an experiend joker. The step from starting player to part time player is not an affront for the 36 year old. Klose needed time to arrange mentally with his role, but said than: “I am not affronted, because I know that I – however – can help the team. I am mentally present, you could see it against Ghana”, the striker said to the German football magazine “Kicker”.

Klose is modest and practical, reserved and a team player. That’s why he is regarded highly not only in the team, the Brazilian press loves the player from Lazio too. „He came off the bench to enter into the story,“ wrote „O Estado de S. Paulo“ after his record goal against Ghana and superstar Rihanna celebrated the striker on Twitter „My nigga Klose“ and „Da German bae“ – „The German Babe „. Basketball star Dirk Nowitzki followed the World Cup from the USA and is always happy in the social network about Klose’s matches.

Anyway, this World Cup has shown one thing: In the Brazilian midday sun many matches were decided just by the bank. Not only, for example, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal proved so far a golden touch with his jokers who brought once more offensive power into play, but coach Joachim Loew decided games in this World Cup to the high humidity by concrete substitutions with fresh offensive forces against tired defender legs. Klose stood out against Ghana, Andre Schurrle in the second round against Algeria.

That Klose not started the tournament as a regular player has to do not only with the phenomenal DFB player Thomas Mueller, who represents as it did in 2010 his eye for goal and his unpredictability to the test. Klose struggled this season with some injuries, came injured out of the season and could not attend large parts of the DFB preparation.

To give everything until the pain barrier is reached, belongs to the playing style of the Lazio striker – and is part of his scoring secret. “I pretty was never at 100% fit”, he smiled some time ago at a press conference. Although he is already older than 30 years and stands always right in the box to score in the best position, Klose helped the German national team in the last years and tournaments with his action radius, his work rate, his running, his fitness – also outside the box. He may score like an old fashioned number 9, but Klose delivers more than it. He works for the team, creats spaces – and that makes him hard to mark.

To give everything until the pain barrier is reached, belongs to the playing style of the Lazio striker – and is part of his scoring secret. “I pretty was never at 100% fit”, he smiled some time ago at a press conference. Although he is already older than 30 years and stands always right in the box to score in the best position, Klose helped the German national team in the last years and tournaments with his action radius, his work rate, his running, his fitness – also outside the box. He may score like an old fashioned number 9, but Klose delivers more than it. He works for the team, creats spaces – and that makes him hard to mark.

After scoring an hattrick in 2002, Klose revealed his scoring secret. “I always had the right coach. They always believed in me and helped me out of a low, whenever there was one. It is good if the coach puts trust in you.” Klose is a special one for Löw and gets special trust from “The Bundestrainer” who was known in the last years to kick out old players out of the national team. Klose is an exception, because his abilities are exceptional – as his fitness is. His secret behind his fitness? Goind to bed early. “I don’t do any special extra training. The only thing i do is sleep a lot.” While other players sit together in the evening Klose turns of his light at 21.30 in the team camp and goes to bed early.

Another key for scoring is practicing set pieces. “If you practice long, you will succeed. In general we practiced a lot of set pieces before this tournament”, Klose said. His equalizing goal against Ghana (2:2) came after one.

Against France Klose was back in the starting lineup, many in Germany have nostalgia for classic strikers and have problems with Loew’s offensive philosophies of the past years, of false nine to 4-3-3 with Gotze and Ozil on the wings as in the group phase of the World Cup . That Loew would buckle and change his world cup plan in the quarter-final against France, in which he ordered captain Lahm to move back to the defense and start Klose as striker was not to be expected. The balance against „Les Bleus“ was good. Although Klose not scored and maybe did not have his best day, only the fact that his appearence opened so much space in midfield for Özil and others, justify a repitition in the semi finals.

Klose plays with passion, fighting spirit and a lot of experience

A goal against Brazil, especially against the hosts of the World Cup against the colors of „Il Fenomeno“ Ronaldo? A scenery as if painted not unrealistic with Klose’s quality. „This is not the most important thing,“ the World Cup top scorer from 2006 holds back. But it also sounded different: „I want to be first, that excites me. That’s normal, „Klose said before the tournament.

20 games in four World Cups Klose has used for his scoring record, the Brazilian managed the feat in just 19 World Cup matches. However, these statistics interested in the sport history books nobody. „It does not scare me to lose the record,“ Ronaldo said before the semi-finals. He will not suffer when Klose scored a goal, assured the 37-year-old. Goals against his nation he should not in principle, and therefore he hoped that „no German makes a goal.“

Should Ronaldo’s wish come true, Klose would have to be after all, still the third-place match at the sole record scorer at the World Cup tournaments. At this the striker wasted but still no idea. Just as at the End of career in the national team. „By this I do not think,“ said Klose: „I am only interested in the semi-finals. We must not now only the second step before the first take, „he said after his 135th international match.

Two can still added so much is certain, and the scoring record is possible – as an end to his career in the DFB Dress would be: as painted.

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