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Podolski targets derby victory

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 25 Sep 2009

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Bundesliga outfit Cologne’s striker Lukas Podolski believes victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the Rhine derby on Saturday would be worth far more than the two wins his side have celebrated over the last week.

The Bundesliga strugglers won their first league game of the season at Stuttgart last weekend and followed that up by sending Wolfsburg out of the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

But, as far as Podolski is concerned, Saturday’s game is the biggest since he returned to the club from Bayern Munich in the summer.

“Of course it is, it’s a derby,” he told the club’s website.

“You want to win this game over anything, and it doesn’t matter if we are now bottom or top of the table.

“Derbies always have a great atmosphere, particularly when they are played in Cologne.

“You get extra motivation for a game like this one.

“So much is at stake for the club, the region and for the fans.”

However, Cologne’s recent record in derby matches does not make pleasant reading with five straight defeats and no win in the last 12 years.

Leverkusen have also yet to lose a game in the Bundesliga all season, although they were beaten in the DFB-Pokal by second-tier side Kaiserslautern in midweek.

Midfielder Simon Rolfes claims that defeat will not unsettle them for Saturday, though.

“Unfortunately, losing is part of football. You cannot win always,” he said on the club’s website.

“However, we can still go into the derby full of self-confidence.

“We have to deal with this defeat, and we have done that, and now we have to prepare ourselves mentally for the derby.”

Cologne’s top scorer from last season Milivoje Novakovic has recovered from a groin strain and returns to the squad, although midweek cup hero Manasseh Ishiaku should keep his place alongside Podolski in attack.

Leverkusen will have to do without Lars Bender, who has been included in the Germany squad for the Under-20 World Cup.

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