Italy single out Klose as Germany's key threat

July 3, 2006

Italy are well aware they need to produce a typical Azzurri defensive display in their World Cup semi-final against Germany to deal with the threat of Miroslav Klose.

Italy's defending has been their strongest suit over the years and it has been the case this summer, with Marcello Lippi's side having conceded just one goal in five games.

Klose, however, has consistently found the back of the net since Japan and South Korea four years ago and currently leads the scoring charts with five goals so far in the tournament.

'Klose has proved how great he is as a striker not just in this World Cup but in previous tournaments,' said Italy striker Luca Toni.

'He has scored so many goals and he is very strong physically and mentally. In some games he may go unnoticed for much of the game and then suddenly he finds the target as we saw against Argentina.

'I think our defenders will have to be extremely careful with him because if you give him a chance he will punish us.'

Toni, who was the most prolific striker in Serie A last season netting 31 goals to help Fiorentina qualify for Champions League football, has also found his touch at the right time.

Having failed to score in the three group games and against Australia in the second round, he struck twice in the 3-0 quarter-final victory over Ukraine.

Toni is now hopeful of following in the footsteps of Italy legend Paolo Rossi - who also failed to score in the group games in the 1982 World Cup but struck six goals to claim the golden boot as Italy lifted the trophy.

'It would be great to emulate Rossi's achievement,' added Toni. 'But the most important thing is that Italy advance.'

The 29-year-old knows what is like to beat Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann having done so in the 4-1 friendly victory in March.

'This is the semi-final of the World Cup,' he said. 'If Germany are in the last four it is for a reason.

'They are difficult side to beat, they have the advantage of playing at home.

'We know what to expect, we know what we have to do, we have to play at our best in order to knock them out.'