“There isn’t a team in the world that wouldn’t like to have Thomas Müller on its side,” USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after his side lost to Germany in the final group match. “He is a remarkable player.”
German coach Joachim Löw was all praise for the striker’s fitness and work rate as well as his finishing ability. “He is mentally strong, a very smart player who always seems able to find space, but physically he is in great shape as well. He is the one who runs the most kilometres but he makes it look easy, even the heat doesn’t seem to affect him.”
And while the accolades, all deserved, are being piled up for Müller, it can’t hide the fact that Germany needs to change its game plan a little. And that is where Miroslav Klose comes in.
After impressing against Portugal in their first group game, Germany received a wake-up call against a feisty Ghana — which showed that the German defence wasn’t impregnable. And against the USA, despite enjoying a lot of possession and creating chances — they were still able to score just once.
Getting Bastian Schweinsteiger to start the game was the right decision — their ball movement was very good and always going forward. The attacking verve is something that Sami Khedira — for all his defensive capabilities — doesn’t exactly bring to the side.
But if the talented midfielders can create so much for the false No.9 Müller, then imagine what they can do for Klose. Even in the game against the USA, almost as soon as Klose came on after half-time — Germany started looking much more threatening in the box.
Muller’s perfectly placed shot was another example of how Klose can help — he draws the centre-backs to him. They know he has a great header and leaving him alone can be dangerous. So they man-mark him and this creates spaces for the others to exploit; spaces that allow players like Müller to score.
It also gives the Germans a target man during open play. The crosses become that much more dangerous and it forces teams to defend differently; and in this case different means more space for Müller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Goetze to exploit.
Klose also has a good equation with Müller and Ozil — their link-ups and interchanges are fantastic. So he would fit right in.
Klose may have equalled Ronaldo's goal scoring record with his goal against Ghana but he has been a bit player so far. And that needs to change. In a sense, Klose remains one of the few real number nine — strikers who know where to be and when.
Coming into the World Cup, Klose was still struggling to get match fit. But now, that seems to be taken care of and rather than use him as a super sub, Low should start him. Certainly, against Algeria in the round of 16, he should start the 36-year-old and see how it goes.
Klose is the only out-and-out striker in the German team and it’s about time Low made full use of him. A man with 70 international goals; a record 15 World Cup goals included should not be wasted on the bench. Put him on the field and watch the goal count. It won’t stop rising.
First Published On : Jun 27, 2014 13:48 IST