Cologne aim to down Mainz as Bayern loom
Cologne host Mainz in Tuesday's re-arranged Bundesliga match hoping Germany star Lukas Podolski can add to his growing goal tally with his former club Bayern Munich on the horizon.
The 26-year-old scored twice in Saturday's 4-0 win over Freiburg to leave him with 13 goals and five assists from 14 German league games this season with his team 10th in the table.
Cologne face two games in three days as they travel to Bayern on Friday for their final German league game of 2011 before the winter break - Podolski spent three unhappy seasons in Munich before returning to Cologne in 2009.
Podolski's Cologne contract expires in 2013, but title contenders Schalke admitted last week they are eager to sign him, leading to a media frenzy off the pitch.
On the field, he has become Cologne's one-man-show, scoring nine of his team's last 13 goals, and says the Rhineland club must keep their form against minnows Mainz, who are 13th.
"We want to stoke up the fire against Mainz," said Podolski.
Having spent the weekend fielding questions about his star player, coach Stale Solbakken said there is no news as to Podolski's future plans with Cologne eager to offer him a contract extension.
"I have no new Podolski news, I don't know which club has got in touch now," said Solbakken at a press conference on Monday.
Cologne can move up to seventh if they beat Mainz and with 20 point so far, are enjoying their best run in the first half of the season for 11 years.
"We have a great chance to be seventh, that should be incentive enough," said Cologne goalkeeper Michael Rensing.
"If we can take 23 points, that would be super for the first part of the season," said Rensing.
Mainz are unbeaten in their last four games, including a rare win over leader Bayern Munich at the end of the month and Solbakken warned against complacency.
"Their team is difficult to analyse, their coach (Thomas Tuchel) changed their tactics recently and they are having the best period of the season so far," he said.
The original Cologne-Mainz match was cancelled on November 19 following the attempted suicide of referee Babak Rafati in his hotel room the morning of the match.
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