Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Germany '06: Aufzupassende Spieler #1

A glance at:


Shirt #: 20
Date of Birth: 4th June, 1985
Nickname: Poldi/ Prinz Poldi
Current Club/ Since: FC Köln (Germany)/ 2003-04
International Debut: Against Hungary (6th June, 2004)

Excerpt from
“Podolski appears to have touched a nerve among the population at large. He possesses the character and poise of a Rudi Voller, and the marketing potential of a David Beckham. He is the sole German player chosen to join Javier Saviola, Arjen Robben, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet in promoting a new Adidas boot.”

Ever since breaking into the German senior team (which made him the 3rd youngest debutante in German history) against Hungary around two years ago, Lukas Podolski has become one of the most talked-about players on the German Soccer circuit. He played in Euro 2004, as well as the 2005 Confederations where he was Germany second-highest goal-scorer (Ballack had 4) with 3 goals in 4 matches (Interesting to note that he had just 7 shots in total, 4 of which were on goal, out of which 3 were converted!).

Podolski will be out to impress this summer, with clubs like Bayern Munich hot on his trail. The Polish-born striker stayed loyal to his club when Köln/ Cologne dropped down to Bundesliga 2 after the 2003-04 season; interestingly Podolski scored 10 goals in 19 appearances that season. Köln made an immediate return to the top-flight next year thanks to Podolski’s efforts, who netted an impressive 24 goals in 30 appearances! Although this season has been a struggle against the Bundesliga big boys (8 goals in 27 appearances; Cologne, themselves, are currently languishing in the relegation zone), his lightning pace and effective finishing abilities ought to make him an automatic choice in Klinsmann’s starting eleven.

Germany’s hopes are pinned, to a large extent, on a surprisingly young side which has been criticized, for lack of experience, by football pundits. It will be interesting to see whether key players like Podolski can rise to the occasion and deliver, circumstantiating Klinsmann’s belief in the vigour and fire of youth (something sorely missed in France ’98 for instance), and silencing critics once and for all.


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