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Hot-shot Podolski hoping to fire Germans into last eight

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 11 Jun 2008

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Germany’s hot-shot forward Lukas Podolski is hoping to celebrate his 50th cap in Thursday’s key Euro 2008 Group B clash against Croatia by firing his side into the last eight.

The 23-year-old striker scored both Germany’s goals in their 2-0 opening win over Poland last Sunday and victory over Croatia in Klagenfurt, Austria, will put the Germans into the quarter-finals.

After enduring a disappointing season on Bayern Munich’s bench, Podolski took his chance against Poland in an attacking midfielder role behind strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez.

And he is solely concentrating on ensuring Germany win on Thursday to guarantee their quarter-final berth.

“It is important that we put in a good performance,” said Podolski.

“Winning my 50th cap is not something I am thinking about, it is just important to play well and get the win.

“Of course, it would be super if results mean we have qualified for the European Championships quarter-finals.”

It remains to be seen whether Germany coach Joachim Loew will play Podolski on the left of midfield and his Bayern colleague Bastian Schweinsteiger on the right in place of Clemens Fritz.

Loew is delighted at Podolski’s recent performances.

“Lukas is playing very well,” said Loew.

“He is a real danger to goalkeepers, especially when coming from deep.”

And Germany captain Michael Ballack thinks Loew should keep the same selection which worked for the opening game.

“There is no real reason to make any changes to the set-up,” said the Chelsea midfielder.

The Germans are concerned about Croatia, who beat England twice in their Euro 2008 qualifying group, and after they beat co-hosts Austria 1-0 last Sunday, a win over Germany would also put them in the last eight.

“The Croats are a very strong team, particularly in defence,” said Germany assistant coach Hans-Dieter Flick.

“In the first game, they showed some weaknesses, but they will be working hard against us.”

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