Germany's Klose can get goals record against Algerians
German striker's best chance to reign supreme on all-time scoring charts will be against the Algerians
ROUND OF 16
GERMANY v ALGERIA
(Tomorrow, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Miroslav Klose knows this is his moment.
The Algerians provide the perfect target practice. Ronaldo's record could fall. Germany's record-equalling striker should get a chance to celebrate his sweet 16th.
His 15th goal paired him off with the retired Brazilian on the podium. One more leaves him alone in the pantheon.
Joachim Loew is unlikely to start his 36-year-old striker against the Africans tomorrow morning (Singapore time), but will acknowledge that Klose has more than destiny in his corner.
As the tournament has progressed, so has Klose. His fitness is no longer a concern and he offered an alternative route to goal against the United States.
His introduction at half-time allowed him to play Piggy in the Middle with Thomas Mueller. They pulled the Americans every which way without ever cutting them loose.
A natural No. 9, Klose drags unwitting defenders towards him and the penalty area. He rarely runs any further than that. But his fondness for the six-yard box splits centre backs.
Mueller profited at a set-piece. With bedraggled, dishevelled defenders playing cat and mouse with the darting Klose, Mueller was granted enough space to bend his winning effort into the bottom corner.
Both men are made to break records against the Algerians.
Algeria's route to the Round of 16 has been a romantic one, but they still shipped goals in every group game, conceding five in total.
Mueller, Mesut Oezil and the returning Mario Goetze present a greater attacking threat than anything offered by Russia, South Korea and even Belgium. The Algerians are huge underdogs for good reason.
Essaid Belkalem and Rafik Halliche are willing runners at centre half and the back four swiftly turns into a back six, when Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb retreats, but their resistance is likely to prove futile.
Klose has an eye on the immortal scoring prize. Mueller hopes to one day join him.
Still only 24, the Bayern Munich forward is the fourth-youngest player with nine career World Cup goals, and the youngest since Gerd Mueller in 1970. He has four already in Brazil and is well aware of the circumstances behind Klose's record.
Klose headed in a hat-trick against Saudi Arabia in 2002. Minnows make for rewarding statistics.
The Algerians will not be quite so obliging, but any result other than a one-sided victory must be considered an upset. The pitch should appear slanted towards Rais M'Bolhi's goal.
Loew's clear-headed judgment has never been clouded by sentiment, but there are tactical reasons to introduce Klose sooner rather than later, with Mueller tucked in behind.
Against the United States, the Germans laboured along the left with Lukas Podolski, who will miss out with a thigh strain.
Playing Mueller in his favoured withdrawn role appeared at odds with the philosophy of sending in high balls to a ghostly penalty box. Germany's crosses did not tick the right boxes.
Scoring has been a slight concern for the Teutonic terriers after the promising, early shellacking of the hapless Portuguese.
Defensive shortcomings marred the comeback against Ghana and a brittle bluntness was noticeable in the final third against the United States.
Germany are not quite the finished article and even if Klose isn't the polished gem he once was, he's not ready for the strikers' scrapheap, either.
With a potential quarter-final at the Maracana against France being dangled as a carrot, a successful evening at the Algerian shooting gallery would work wonders for morale.
German goals must be a given in this game. Only their source will provide the intrigue.
In all probability, Mueller and Klose could both see their names pencilled in on the score-sheet as they pursue distinct personal goals.
Muller is chasing the Golden Boot, but Klose is chasing the sun. He's a goal away from being illuminated for all time.
The Algerians offer his best shot at immortality.
The Algerians have proven that they are tough rivals. Anyone who thinks that easy opponents are waiting for us in the next round is making an enormous mistake.
— Germany coach Joachim Loew
We are the better team, but we have to prove that on the pitch.
— Germany captain Philipp Lahm
Algeria have qualified for the last 16 for the first time but will face a sterner test than most when they face Germany tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The Algerian team will nearly all be fasting when they battle the Germans in Porto Alegre. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan, which started yesterday.
The Algerians are using Hakim Chalabi, a sports medicine specialist at the Aspetar clinic in Doha and one of Fifa's leading experts on fasting footballers to help them.
"It is a period when the risk of injury increases, especially in the lower back, the joints and the muscles," said Chalabi.
"This is mainly because of dehydration and not the lack of eating."
Players can lose up to six litres of fluids during a match.
The expert, a former medical chief at French football giants Paris St Germain, said the level and quality of nutrition had to be changed to cope with exercise during Ramadan.
"The players must hydrate themselves better. We also advise them to take a longer siesta during the afternoon to make up for some of the lost sleep."
Muslims have to get up very early in the morning to pray before starting their fast.
Algeria's captain Majid Bougherra (above) confirmed drinking enough is the most difficult part.
"But we are okay. The climate is good," he said.
"Some players can delay the fasting. In my case, I am going to do it in line with my physical state. But I think I am going to do it."
Chalabi said there could also be a psychological boost during the fasting month.
"Curiously there are some athletes who have better results during Ramadan because they really want to do the fast," said the doctor.
Religious authorities in several countries take a pragmatic attitude to football and Ramadan.
In 2008, the Dar al-Ifta, Egypt's main Islamic body, allowed professional footballers to eat during Ramadan if they were bound by contracts to play during the holy month and they felt that fasting will impact their performance.
Other workers involved in "hard labour" are also given a dispensation.
Germany's Mesut Oezil said he falls into this category.
"I can't take part," said Arsenal's attacking midfielder, who added that the World Cup is "working".
"It will be impossible for me to take part this year."
Another player who is not fasting is France defender Bacary Sagna.
"As a Muslim, I know some laws allow you to avoid fasting," said the player who is of Senegalese origin. "I will not fast, but I respect those who will practise it." - AFP.