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Stuttgart’s Super Mario looking to blitz the Swiss

Less training has meant more goals for striker Mario Gomez, and Germany's player of 2007 is looking to torment Switzerland in Wednesday night's pre-Euro 2008 friendly in Basel.

Stuttgart's Super Mario looking to blitz the Swiss
Photo: DPA

The 22-year-old has already hit 15 league goals in 19 appearances this season, despite his club VfB Stuttgart struggling in the league and has attracted the attention of top European sides including AC Milan.

Gomez is set to partner Bayern Munich’s Miroslav Klose up front in Wednesday night’s friendly in Basel and has shaken off a series of muscular injuries by training less while still hitting the back of the net.

“Mario has a goal record which is the envy of most players, there will be many eyes watching him when Euro 2008 begins, it will be an interesting tournament for him,” said Germany coach Oliver Bierhoff.

With less than 80 days before Euro 2008 begins, a good performance against the Swiss could cement Gomez’s place alongside Klose in attack at the expense

of Schalke 04s Kevin Kuranyi.

“It is great for me to be in the national team, I was still finding my feet last year, but I am really looking forward to Euro 2008,” said Gomez who has scored four goals in eight appearances for Germany.

Meanwhile, Germany midfielders Bernd Schneider and Bastian Schweinsteiger are looking to put disjointed Bundesliga seasons behind them and prove their form in Wednesday’s friendly.

Both veteran Schneider, 34, and rising-star Schweinsteiger, 23, have struggled for form this season and need strong performances in Basel ahead of Euro 2008 in June.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Schneider missed most of last autumn with injury while Bayern’s Schweinsteiger has been out-shone at Bayern Munich since Franck Ribery’s arrival last summer.

French star Ribery has been the jewel in Bayern’s crown this season, but his arrival from Marseille last summer has seen Schweinsteiger struggle to shine and impose himself in games.

But with less than three months before Switzerland co-host Euro 2008 with Austria, both Schneider and Schweinsteiger need to impress head coach Joachim

Loew.

Schweinsteiger is set to start on the left side of midfield and displace Bayern Munich colleague Lukas Podolski who proved to be a success when Loew

switched him from striker to midfielder at the end of last year.

Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth is definitely out after the 23-year-old injured his ankle and returned to England on Tuesday.

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack will captain the side and win his 79th cap.

Bayern Munich defenders Philipp Lahm and Marcell Jansen are expected to play right-back and left-back respectively with Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker and Hertha Berlin’s Arne Friedrich in the heart of the defence.

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann will be in goal, but coach Loew expects a more polished performance after a series of errors in the 3-0 win over Austria

last month.

UKRAINE

German football club ends partnership with Russia’s Gazprom

German football club Schalke 04 announced Monday it had prematurely ended its partnership with Russian gas giant Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

German football club ends partnership with Russia's Gazprom

The deal between the second-tier German club and Gazprom had been due to run until 2025 with Schalke receiving around €9 million ($10 million) per year in sponsorship.

Had the Gelsenkirchen-based club won promotion back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season, the sponsorship figure would have risen to €15 million annually.

Schalke had already removed the Gazprom logo from their shirts for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Karlsruhe.

In a statement, Schalke said their finances were “unaffected by this decision”.

“The club’s management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner in the near future.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany has scuppered Nord Stream 2 but there are questions left to answer

Gazprom representative Matthias Warnig resigned from the club’s supervisory board last Thursday.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German Football Association (DFB), had already hinted there could be financial aid for Schalke if they split from Gazprom.

“If this requires the solidarity of other clubs in Germany to get them out of this situation, then we have to discuss how we can manage that,” Watzke told ZDF.

READ ALSO: Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

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