Connect to share and comment
Miroslav Klose may not have secured himself the mantle of the World Cup's all-time record goalscorer but his selfless running played its part in Germany's 1-0 World Cup quarter-final victory against France on Friday.
The 36-year-old, appearing in his 22nd World Cup finals match, did not threaten to score but his presence gave Germany a focal point in attack, and provided France's centre-backs with something else to think about besides the dangerous runs into the box from Thomas Mueller.
If anyone is ready to take on Klose's mantle it is the 24-year-old Bayern Munich star, who arguably best represents the future of this German team and already has nine World Cup goals to his name.
His threat on the counter-attack, allied to the fresh legs of substitutes Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze, meant Germany remained the more likely side to score in the closing minutes as they inflicted more World Cup pain on the French, who they beat in the 1982 and 1986 semi-finals.
Klose, who scored a crucial goal just after coming on as a substitute in the 2-2 draw with Ghana in the group stage, never got a sniff of goal this time but saw his appeals for a penalty midway through the first half waved away after he appeared to be pulled back by Mathieu Debuchy.
That moment summed up a frustrating 135th international appearance for the Poland-born striker.
His involvement amounted to just eight passes and he failed to muster a single shot on goal, leaving him level with retired Brazil great Ronaldo on 15 goals in the World Cup finals.
Klose could yet get another chance to notch that record-breaking goal, with Germany assured of another two matches at this tournament, regardless of the result in the semi-final
- Loew's changes pay dividends -
He was one of three changes to the starting line-up made by coach Joachim Loew -- who also brought in Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels -- and that played a crucial part in Germany's victory.
Centre-back Hummels had missed the 2-1 win over Algeria because of flu but he produced a man-of-the-match display on his return to the side, heading in the game's only goal in the 13th minute.
His presence, along with that of Klose and the decision to switch captain Philipp Lahm from central midfield back to his traditional full-back slot was part of a tactical plan that paid off handsomely for Loew.
"I wanted Klose up front so Mueller could play wide and keep the French full-backs busy," explained Loew.
"France are very strong in the middle, with (Yohan) Cabaye and (Paul) Pogba, so that is why I wanted to have Lahm on the right and Mueller supporting him kept their wide men busy.
"I used Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels (in central defence) because I thought they could cope better with the great speed going forward of players like Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann."