Polish-born Podolski banking on German win
AFP · 7 Jun 2008, 10:28
Published: 07 Jun 2008 10:28 GMT+02:00
The 23-year-old speaks fluent Polish and has been helping his team-mates pronounce the names of the opponents they will face in Klagenfurt, Austria on Sunday.
The Bayern Munich striker still has relatives in Poland and watches Polish television at home, but he is keeping his fingers crossed Germany coach Joachim Löw will name him in the starting line-up to add to his 48 caps.
"Things are going well and I am training as if I will be playing, I'll find out tomorrow or the day after if I am starting," said Podolski, who has been used as an attacking midfielder by Löw in the past. "Poland is very important to me, I have a large family in Poland, it is an important game, I really want to play in the game and win it."
Poland have been strengthened by Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker and are expected to present Germany with a tough challenge as Löw's side bid to win their fourth European title, but Podolski is convinced Germany will win.
"Poland are a compact team with a good coach, but if we play at 100 percent and work hard I am sure we will win," Podolski said.
The match is regarded as one of the most sensitive of the tournament given the history between the two countries.
Polish tabloid Super Express did nothing to help the situation by running a doctored picture of Beenhakker holding the heads of Germany coach Löw and captain Michael Ballack under the headline: "Leo, bring us their heads!"
Both Löw and Beenhakker distanced themselves from the controversy with Germany especially keen to end their 12-year wait for a European Championship win - both in terms of a title and games as they are winless since beating the Czech Republic in 1996.
History favours Löw's side as in the 15 meetings betweeen the teams since 1933, Poland have yet to win, while Germany have won 11 of them with the other four finishing in draws.
"Slowly, but surely we are feeding our players information on Poland, we have a detailed analysis from our chief scout, so the players know what the opposition is capable of," said Löw. "If we play to our full potential and are physical against Poland, I think we will win."
Podolski is one of three players in the squad, alongside striker Miroslav Klose and winger Piotr Trochowski, who were born in Poland.