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The scheming power of 'Piza'

Published: Friday 25 February 2005, 12.00CET
FC Bayern Munchen's Claudio Pizarro made his mark with two goals against Arsenal FC
Published: Friday 25 February 2005, 12.00CET

The scheming power of 'Piza'

FC Bayern Munchen's Claudio Pizarro made his mark with two goals against Arsenal FC
By Andreas Alf

After 68 minutes of FC Bayern München's 3-1 UEFA Champions League win against Arsenal FC on Tuesday, striker Claudio Pizarro left the pitch as fast as he could. The two goals he had scored may have given him a warm feeling inside, but not warm enough to counter the freezing temperatures at the Olympiastadion.

Two goals
Having opened the scoring after just four minutes, the Peruvian headed Bayern's second after 58 minutes and then scuttled off the pitch to be substituted just three minutes after Hasan Salihamidzic had scored Bayern's third to put Felix Magath's side in the driving seat ahead of the return leg at Highbury.

Starring role
It was a starring role which confirmed that the 26-year-old is in startling form at the moment. Having already scored one of Bayern's five goals against their one-time biggest adversaries BV Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, Pizarro has reminded the world that there is more to Bayern's strike-force than Roy Makaay.

'A genius'
Felix Magath has called the Dutch international's striking foil "a genius" and maintains that Pizarro "has got absolutely every quality a world-class forward needs". Having also coached Pizarro during their time at Werder Bremen, Magath has given the striker renewed confidence at the Olympiastadion.

Easily satisfied
Pizarro is a notoriously temperamental player and Magath is aware of his faults. "Claudio tends to be satisfied very easily," he said. "He always wants to have fun and wants to joke around. If he manages to use his potential more consistently, he will get even better."

Perfect foil
However, it is perhaps that playfulness which makes Pizarro such a wonderful partner for Makaay. The Dutchman is focus personified and a constant thorn in the side of oppostition defences, giving Pizarro plenty of space to create. As often as not, if Makaay does not score, 'Piza' will do the honours.

Rampant form
A dangerous pairing at the worst of times, Pizarro's rampant form has sharpened their cutting edge further. "I am convinced that I have finally found my best form," said Pizarro on Tuesday. "Now I will try to score in every match. That means Arsenal should expect me to be among the scorers at Highbury."

Bullish talk
Such bullish talk will be a massive bonus for Bayern who have not always seen the best of Pizarro in recent seasons. With young Roque Santa Cruz never able to fulfil the expectations pressed upon him, the Peruvian international captain's place in the first XI was rarely under threat, and it showed.

Extra pressure
However, with fellow countryman Paulo Guerrero having showed goalscoring ability for Bayern, the pressure is on Pizarro. "Having two promising options next to Makaay is brilliant," said Magath. "Claudio raised his game because he was afraid of being replaced by Paulo. The team profited from that."

Unscheduled trip
Pizarro still has the ability to upset his coach. Recently, he took advantage of a day off to fly to London along with team-mate Owen Hargreaves to take in an Arsenal game and do some shopping in the English capital. Magath was less than pleased that his striker had picked up a typical English cold on his travels.

Cold comfort
However, with Pizarro and the ever-threatening Makaay both fit as fiddles at the moment, Magath will doubtless not begrudge his wayward striker a place on Bayern's flight to London for the return leg against Arsenal. Meanwhile, Arsène Wenger will know only too well that no cold snap will keep Pizarro at bay.

Last updated: 28/02/05 11.38CET

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