Germany winger Lukas Podolski could win his 100th cap when the Euro 2012 Group B leaders take on Denmark on Sunday but he must be more effective up front as they bid to seal a quarter-final spot.
“It is clear that people expect more from me in attack. I expect more from me as well,” said Podolski, who has scored 43 goals for Germany.
“But in the first two games my job was to secure the back. It was a tactical order by the coach which I fulfilled.”
Germany, with six points after wins over Portugal and the Netherlands, need at least one point to guarantee their progress and Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said the 27-year-old Podolski needed to improve in attack.
“There is still room for improvement in his offensive game,” he said, adding that Podolski’s defensive work in the last two games had been vital for the team’s success.
“We obviously want to leave our mark on the offence as well but the teams we have played so far were very attacking teams and we had to put the emphasis on the defence.”
Flick declined to reveal whether Podolski’s weak showing in attack at the tournament would cost him his place in the team.
“He will most certainly reach 100 caps. Whether that will happen at the next game remains to be seen,” said Flick.
The group qualifying permutations could be complicated if Germany lose and Portugal, with three points, beat Netherlands. In that case the Germans could oust the Portuguese only if they lose by a single goal margin and score two or more goals.
Denmark, who are also on three points, would qualify for the last eight if they beat Germany, whatever the score, if it becomes a three-team head-to-head ‘mini-league’ with Portugal.
Germany, trying to reach the knockout stage with a perfect record, want to top the group to set up a quarter-final with the Group A runners-up in Gdansk and so avoid any travel.
“Denmark have a very good coach and the team interprets their system well,” said Flick.
“They quickly shift from a compact defence to counter (attack) and they do not seem to feel the pressure other teams feel. So we expect this to be a piece of very hard work.”
The Germans will be without suspended right back Jerome Boateng, with Lars Bender the most likely candidate to replace him, leaving captain Philipp Lahm on the left.
Denmark have not lost to Germany in over 16 years, winning twice and drawing once, and their last tournament clash in the Euro 92 final ended with the Scandinavians crowned European champions.
The Danes will be without experienced winger Dennis Rommedahl, injured in the 3-2 defeat by Portugal, and he will likely be replaced by Tobias Mikkelsen.
Denmark have also had to deal with the distraction of their main striker, Nicklas Bendtner, being charged by UEFA for improper conduct after revealing the logo of a betting company on the waistband of his underpants against Portugal.