Podolski prepares to face future club Cologne

BERLIN - Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski will be in the spotlight on Saturday when his team entertain Cologne, the club he has agreed to rejoin at the end of the season.

Podolski received a standing ovation from his adoring Cologne fans and waved to the crowd after scoring one goal and setting up another in Bayern's 3-0 away win in September, incensing officials at his own club.

"It is not an ordinary match but there is too much fanfare surrounding it," he told reporters this week.

"I am happy the transfer (to Cologne) is complete but in the next three or four months I will step on the gas to win a title (with Bayern)."

Even Germany coach Joachim Loew pitched in, warning Podolski to remain focused and shut out the supporters.

"He should not think about Cologne until the end of the season," Loew told the Bild newspaper.

"Celebrating with the Cologne fans like he did in the first match would be wrong."


Podolski, who left Cologne for Bayern in 2006, has fallen out of favour with coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Klinsmann, however, said the striker could make a rare start on Saturday after Luca Toni was injured last week.

Bayern have been inconsistent since the winter break, losing two out of three league matches, and badly need a win.

Klinsmann's team are fourth in the Bundesliga on 38 points, two behind leaders Hertha Berlin.

Hertha, who went top after beating Bayern 2-1 last week, travel to sixth-placed VfL Wolfsburg who are aiming for their third victory in a row.

Hoffenheim, down to second after taking only one point from their last two matches, visit VfB Stuttgart who are unbeaten in the league since November.

Hamburg SV, in third, welcome Ivica Olic back to their squad after a four-match suspension for the trip to fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.

Olic's team mate and fellow striker Mladen Petric completes his two-game ban.