The Republic of Ireland must contain the threat of a player who is being touted in some quarters as ‘‘the new Gerd Muller’’ if they are to keep their World Cup hopes alive on Wednesday.
Manager Mick McCarthy’s boys face on-fire Germany at the Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki knowing they cannot afford to lose their crucial Group E showdown following an opening 1-1 draw with Cameroon on Saturday.
Just a few hours later that same day, Germany rewrote their own record books with an 8-0 trouncing of hapless Saudi Arabia, their biggest winning margin in a World Cup match.
Miroslav Klose started the rout before going on to complete the third hat-trick of his international career and taking his remarkable tally to 11 goals in 13 matches for Germany.
Klose still has a considerable road to tread if he is to come close to emulating the astonishing pedigree of the legendary Muller, nicknamed ’Der Bomber’, who scored 68 goals in 62 games.
But there is already speculation as to whether he can at least equal or beat the record for most goals scored by a German player in the World Cup finals - Muller’s 10 in 1970 in Mexico - and more than likely win the tournament’s ’Golden Boot’ for top scorer.
For the 23-year-old Kaiserslautern striker, the early comparisons with Muller are probably unfair due to the unnecessary pressure it creates, but Ireland will have to be wary of the Polish-born rising star.
‘‘Miro always sweats blood for us and he always throws himself into the fray,’’ said coach Rudi
Voller of Klose’s never-say-die attitude before pouring scorn on his hopes of approaching Muller’s incredible record.
Voller, who scored 47 goals in 90 matches, added in Frankfurter Allgemeine: ‘‘Gerd Muller’s scoring rate will never be equalled. I know because I tried myself in my playing days, and I failed.’’
But both German Football Federation president Franz Beckenbauer and former Spurs star Jurgen Klinsmann, himself a prolific scorer for his clubs and country, were more forthcoming in their praise for Klose.
‘‘He’s an incredible jumper, much like Uwe Seeler in his day,’’ commented Beckenbauer after watching Klose score all three goals against the Saudis with his head.
‘‘While 11 goals in 13 games for Germany - that is something which comes close to Gerd Muller’s record.’’
Klinsmann also believes in Klose’s ability as he said: ‘‘He has everything a top striker needs.’’
Klose, who celebrates his goals with a somersault, has conceded he always dreamed of playing a starring role in a World Cup finals, but is determined to keep his feet on the ground.
It remains to be seen whether Klose or Ireland’s own acrobat in Robbie Keane, who delights Irish fans with his goalscoring gymnastics whenever he scores, will be tumbling into the spotlight on Wednesday.