Klose unburdened by record chance

MIROSLAV KLOSE is hoping to shake off a back injury ahead of Germany’s match with Uruguay tonight in what will be his last chance to write his names in the history books of the World Cup.

The Bayern Munich striker is just one goal shy of the all-time World Cup finals scoring record of 15 held by Brazil’s Ronaldo.

Klose’s two goals against Argentina in the quarter-finals put him level with Gerd Muller, the legendary German striker of the 1970s, and in sight of Ronaldo’s mark.

The 32-year-old is hoping to shake off a back injury before the third-place play-off match in Port Elizabeth tonight but insists the all-time scoring record is not uppermost in his mind.

Klose said: “I want to win against Uruguay, even if I don’t score, that’s still the most important thing.

“I don’t know whether I am going to pass Ronaldo’s record, and I don’t really care. I am more interested in what we do as a team.”

Klose and Thomas Muller, who returns after missing the semi-final defeat by Spain through suspension, are also still in contention for the Golden Boot award as the tournament’s top scorer.

Both Germany players have four goals, one behind Spain’s David Villa and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder who go head to head in the final tomorrow.

They may also be up against Diego Forlan, also on four goals, though he too is struggling with injury.

Germany won the play-off in front of their home fans four years ago, comfortably defeating Portugal, and skipper Philipp Lahm insists the match is relevant to the players despite the disappointment of missing out on the final.

Lahm said: “We saw four years ago how great this game can be and we want to go home with a win and with a good feeling.

“Before, like a lot of people, I didn’t even want to watch this match on television. But now, I believe that winning this match is important, that it can provide us with some consolation.”

Meanwhile Luis Suarez, the Uruguay striker who has emerged as the most controversial figure of the World Cup, has called on his team-mates to “play to the death” to secure the prize of third place in the tournament.

The match has had a reputation for being an almost meaningless consolation prize but Suarez, whose last-minute handball against Ghana prevented the Africans from going through to the semi-finals, insists Uruguay will take enormous pride from coming third.

Suarez said: “For this squad, the World Cup is not over yet. Now what’s left is to play to the death for third place.”

The Ajax striker’s action against Ghana led to global notoriety – for a time his name was the second-most searched for on Google, just below Paris Hilton’s.

The handball incident led to FIFA president Sepp Blatter ruling out ‘penalty goals’ ever being awarded in such circumstances, while Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez described it as “a scandal” that Suarez was being singled out as a cheat, having conceded a penalty and been banned for the semi-final against the Netherlands.

Tabarez has also echoed his striker’s call for Uruguay to pull out all the stops against Germany tonight.

He said: “Yes, third and fourth position is not the same as the top two, but we will go in with the same commitment and enthusiasm as we did against Holland. We have no guarantee that we will win but we will prepare ourselves for a fight to the death.”

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