German strikers just can't seem to score

23rd March 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 March 2004 , HAMBURG - Germany coach Rudi Voeller has two matches left before he has to name his 23-player squad for Euro 2004, but his concerns about having at least one decent striker among them must be growing by the day. In addition to Voeller's problems up front, playmaker Michael Ballack and defensive pillar Jens Nowotny are playing below par. When Voeller on Thursday selects his team for next week's friendly with Belgium, the squad will include Fredi Bobic, Kevin Kuranyi and Miroslav Klose althou

23 March 2004

HAMBURG - Germany coach Rudi Voeller has two matches left before he has to name his 23-player squad for Euro 2004, but his concerns about having at least one decent striker among them must be growing by the day.

In addition to Voeller's problems up front, playmaker Michael Ballack and defensive pillar Jens Nowotny are playing below par.

When Voeller on Thursday selects his team for next week's friendly with Belgium, the squad will include Fredi Bobic, Kevin Kuranyi and Miroslav Klose although they are going through hard times.

Bobic, who netted six national team goals last year, has not scored in the league in 522 minutes and has once again lost his place in the starting 11 at relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin.

Stuttgart's Kuranyi is scoreless in 634 Bundesliga minutes and Klose, Germany's 2002 World Cup top scorer with five goals, fares even worse, not having netted in 911 minutes at troubled Kaiserslautern.

"Kevin does not believe in himself," admitted Stuttgart coach Felix Magath.

Voeller, himself a former star striker who won the 1990 World Cup as a player, is left to hope for the best after his strikers have scored just four goals in the last six national team games.

"The only positive thing is that we are not in the final week before the Euro-tournament. It is only a matter of time until they score again," Voeller told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily on Tuesday.

The form of Voeller's trio of striking options - as well as Benjamin Lauth and Oliver Neuville - is a far cry from the form of Werder Bremen's Brazilian league top scorer Ailton (22 goals) and Bayern Munich's Dutch marksman Roy Makaay (18).

But Munich defender Robert Kovac said it was not fair to compare Kuranyi and Klose to the successful foreign two.

"The two Germans do a lot of work for the team, run a lot and lose strength which leads to lack of concentration up front," said Kovac.

The strikers have only nine league matches left to regain their form for the 12 June 4 July Euro 2004 event, where Germany face a tough group with ex-champions Netherlands and Czech Republic, plus Latvia.

That also applies to Nowotny, who is in a bad slump coming off two long-term knee injuries and has lost his place in Bayer Leverkusen's starting lineup.

Ballack, meanwhile, is still a starter at champions Bayern Munich, but not his usual self after weeks of controversy about the role he should play in the team.

Voeller, however, is confident that the 27-year-old will be a key player in Portugal again like he was two years ago at the World Cup.

"I am convinced that Michael Ballack will prove his class at Euro," said Voeller.

Voeller's only reasons for joy are the solid return from injuries of midfielders Torsten Frings and Dietmar Hamann as well as the strong form of youngsters Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm.

"Playing at Euro? Why not, if things continue to go as well as now," said the so far uncapped 19-year-old Bayern Munich talent Schweinsteiger.

DPA

Subject: German news

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