sport

Podolski craves Rio return

Following Germany’s 1-0 victory over France, striker Lukas Podolski says his side are desperate to return to the Maracana to feature in the World Cup final.

A 12th-minute goal from defender Mats Hummels was enough to see Joachim Low's side through to the semi-finals as they saw off their European rivals at the Maracana.

The same stadium will host the final on July 13 and, despite admitting Germany may not have the game-changing players of other nations, Podolski believes there is no reason they cannot reach the showpiece event.

Standing in their way are hosts Brazil, who beat Colombia 2-1 on Friday, and the Arsenal striker has every faith in Germany's ability.

\"Yes we can do it,\" he said. \"Every one of us wants it, all 23 players want to win this title.

\"We have the chance now and I hope we get it in the end. We are here, we are strong and we will fight. We want to come back to Rio, that's what we want the most now.

\"It's not easy, though, as a lot of European teams are already out - and it's true we don't always play well here.\"

Brazil head into the semi-finals without their star striker Neymar, who picked up a back injury during their quarter-final success, but Podolski claims Germany are not fazed by the high-profile names in the final four.

\"It's not always the best team that wins the World Cup,\" the 29-year-old claimed. \"We don't have players like Lionel Messi or Neymar who can make a special goal, a special move.

\"But we have a strong team and we all stick together, which is vital.\"

Tuesday's semi-final against Brazil will see Germany become the first nation to make a fourth consecutive appearance in the final four of the World Cup, but Podolski admits they are not finished yet.

\"It is a good run but we don't want to go out again in the semis, like in 2006 and 2010,\" he added. \"We want to stay to the end.

\"There's a special feeling in Rio and the stadium here is special, so we want to come back here again. Most important is that, at the end, you have the victory - it's not how you play or how many chances you create.

\"If you have the World Cup at the end it doesn't matter. No one talks about the way you play or the heat.\"