Germany striker Miroslav Klose is hoping to add to his ever-increasing goal tally in Tuesday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against minnows Azerbaijan as he closes in on Gerd Mueller’s all-time record.
Klose has netted 53 goals in 102 appearances for his country, having scored the winner in Germany’s opening 1-0 win over Belgium in Brussels last Friday to get their Euro 2012 campaign off to a good start.
Bayern Munich’s Mueller holds the record as Germany’s all-time top-scorer after 68 goals in 62 games.
Klose is third in the rankings, but he is now just two strikes away from drawing level with second-placed Joachim Streich.
The 32-year-old has said he wants to play on, not only until Euro 2012 in the Ukraine and Poland, but also the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which could see him pass Mueller’s impressive mark.
But for now, Klose’s priority is to help his country win three more points.
“I will of course try again to put in a good performance, I would love to score a goal in every game,” said Polish-born Klose.
“Of course, it’s always nice to score a winning goal, but the team still needs at least three or four weeks of preparation before we will hit our top form again. We have already found it quite hard against Azerbaijan.”
Germany beat Azerbaijan 4-0 in Hanover and 2-0 in Baku last year in World Cup qualifiers and coach Joachim Loew will name a full-strength side for the game in Cologne as the hosts target six points from their first two games.
With Michael Ballack still working his way back to fitness after the ankle injury that kept him out of the World Cup, full-back Philipp Lahm will captain the side again.
Left-back Marcell Jansen is the only casualty from the team that beat Belgium as Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker is expected to be named alongside Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber in central defence.
Midfielders Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller will lead Germany’s attack, although Cologne’s Podolski had a quiet game in Brussels and will want to impress at his home stadium.
“Of course, you can see a player needs some time to find his rhythm again after a World Cup,” said Loew.
“I think that Lukas will find his form again.”
Azerbaijan’s German coach Berti Vogts has recalled Sasha Yunisoglu, midfielder Fabio Luis Ramim and striker Vugar Nadyrov after lengthy international absences, the latter being one of eight Qarabag FK players in the squad.
Talented under-21 players Elvin Mammadov and Javid Huseynov have been called up but Vogts has concerns over Vladimir Levin and Ruslan Abushev after the defenders missed the latest round of domestic matches because of injury.
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