Euro 2012 Qualification Preview: Germany vs. Kazakhstan
Table-toppers Germany host the minnows of Kazakhstan on Saturday evening in Kaiserslautern in Group A action.
Germany have never failed to qualify for a major competition and Euro 2012 qualification looks a mere formality. After four matches, the three-time champions lead the group with 12 points, with a 13-1 scoring advantage.
(Editor's note: read James Thorogood's preview of Wales-England.)
Miroslav Klose, ignored by Louis van Gaal for a season and a half at Bayern Munich, celebrates a decade of "national service" with a rare start at his former home - the Fritz Walter Stadium in Kaiserslautern, where he kicked off his Bundesliga career.
The 32-year-old Polish-born striker has seen off all striking challengers over the past ten years, amassing an amazing 59 goals in 106 appearances for the national side. He now has his sights set on Gerd Müller's all-time goal-scoring record. The "Bomber" Müller - another Bayern legend - racked up an astonishing 68 goals in only 62 games for Germany.
Besides Klose, German coach Joachim Löw can call on regular starters from the "Bayern block" including Captain Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller (no relation to Gerd). Bayern's top scorer Mario Gomez and young midfielder Toni Kroos will probably have to make do with a place on the bench.
Löw has demanded a stellar performance from his talented side and stresses that "a win alone is not enough."
"We have a fully-fit squad to choose from and we are very well prepared. We want to show the kind of football that made us strong at the World Cup. We are going to go hell for leather," he added.
Anything other than a comfortable victory for the German powerhouse over bottom-of-the-table Kazakhstan would be a major surprise. The Kazakhs are missing six regulars, including their captain Andrei Karpovich.
Prediction: Germany 5 Kazakhstan 0