Miroslav Klose knows more than most other players, let alone Germans, of what it takes to succeed at a FIFA World Cup. A winner of the tournament four years ago, the now Germany coach has called for the 2018 squad to do their talking on the pitch, where it counts.
Klose - the record World Cup goalscorer with 16 strikes in his career – believes that Germany will thrive when the pressure is at its highest, just like they did in his playing days with Die Mannschaft.
"That was the first time I'd seen what those pressure games are like," Klose told reporters in Sochi on Thursday, referring to Germany’s play-off win over Sweden to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. "We played our best games under pressure, so I'm very positive for Saturday."
Plenty has been said of Germany’s defeat to Mexico in their first group stage match of the tournament in Russia. Preparations were under scrutiny after adjustments to the length of grass were made at Germany’s training complex before the game in Moscow, and Klose believes the time for such excuses is long gone.
"I don’t like all the excuses: grass too long, bad referee, sun too strong, I'm not the type for that,” Klose explained. “Things are decided on the pitch. I've always been in that mind-set and have been trying to pull the others the same way.
"Enough has been said, now it’s time to deliver.”
However, after playing a near-full strength team – except for the ill Jonas Hector, with Marvin Plattenhardt starting in his place – calls for changes to the line-up have also been made. Thomas Müller – the World Cup’s leading active scorer with 10 goals – and Marco Reus insisted their desire to play when speaking to media on Wednesday.
Klose believes the Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund pair, as well as other key men that make up the spine of the defending champion’s team, need to be a constant if Germany are to succeed in their goal of winning a fifth World Cup title.
"We have players who have the character to progress,” Klose said. “We have a spine, the leaders who are in the team. This axis must take us forward.”
Instead of a change in personnel, a change in style of play would be Klose’s idea, utilising another dimension to Germany’s potential in the squad.
"We need to make deep runs in the channels, and for that we need the players who make these runs, who don’t always go to the ball but also look to open up the game and make clear spaces and paths for others,” Klose explained.