Italy’s Luca Toni will have extra motivation to score in Sunday’s Euro 2008 quarterfinal against Spain as he tries to win a bet with club mate Miroslav Klose.
The two strikers, colleagues at Bayern Munich, have a private contest to see who can grab most goals at the tournament and after the German got off the mark in the 3-2 win over Portugal on Thursday the pressure is on Toni in Vienna.
“I scored my goal so now it’s up to Luca to equalise,” Klose told a news conference on Saturday.
“I texted him and he messaged back saying he’s having a few problems with his best friend, the ball. He said at the moment it’s doing what it wants, not what he wants.”
Between them Toni and Klose claimed 34 Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich last season so it is surprising to see them struggling here.
Klose played reasonably well in Germany’s three Group B games, creating chances for his colleagues but failing to score himself.
“The coaches said to me before the Portugal game the Euros had really only just begun and there was a long way to go,” Klose said after notching his 40th goal in 79 internationals.
“Things went a lot better for me in that game.”
Toni needs luck
The struggling Toni has failed to score but the Italy striker must not be discounted having proved the doubters wrong time and again.
Sunday’s quarterfinal against Spain in Vienna gives the tall, powerful striker the perfect chance to show that his mini-drought has been due to bad luck rather than bad form.
Toni, a late developer who only came to prominence at 27, did find the net in the 1-1 Group C draw with Romania but his header was wrongly ruled out for offside.
The 31-year-old was also poised to slot home in the 2-0 win over France last time out before being hauled down by Eric Abidal and winning the penalty, which gave the world champions the lead.
His teammates and coach are adamant that his contribution as the main target man has been huge. “Luca has been really good and played very well. He was important in getting the penalty and has been unlucky not to score,” coach Roberto Donadoni said this week.
Toni is not the archetypal Italian striker, with power and aerial ability his key assets rather than great skill or pace. At times his big frame makes him to look ungainly and the ball occasionally gets stuck under his feet. But when he is on song, there are few better.