What a difference one game can make. Striker Kevin Kuranyi was in danger of again being dropped from the German national squad. But then he put four goals past Cottbus.
Kuranyi scored an all-important goal for Schalke in the Champions League
The 2006 World Cup was fun for all in Germany -- but not for Kevin Kuranyi. The Schalke striker was dropped from the German national squad shortly before the start of the tournament and ended up watching the event from home.
It looked as though the same fate might befall him in the run-up to the 2008 European Championships. Former Schalke coach Mirko Slomka benched him for a league match early this month against Rostock and took him out of a tight game against Barcelona in the Champions League.
The striker has been back in national dress for Germany's past few friendlies
But Kuranyi sealed a trip to the Euro 2008 with a four-goal barrage against Cottbus on Tuesday, April 15.
"If nothing unforeseen happens, Kevin will be at Euro 2008," Germany coach Loew said in an interview with the Koelner Express newspaper on Thursday.
You have to go back to October 2004 to find a player scoring four times in a league match. In the space of 90 minutes, Kuranyi went from the middle of the pack to the upper ranks of the Bundesliga's scoring list -- and achieved a bit of personal redemption.
Long recovery from despair
Kuranyi has had to bear a lot of frustration the past two years
As recently as last year, Kuranyi was still bitter about what he called "the biggest disappointment of my year" -- former Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann's decision to leave him off of the World Cup squad.
After learning he was out, Kuranyi vented his feelings online in a blog entry.
"I'm truly speechless," the striker wrote. "I'm deeply disappointed and know I am in for some sleepless nights. I keep asking myself: Why me? Why can't I be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event?"
Kuranyi vowed to come back, but he has suffered from comparisons to his competition for places in Germany's attack. Kuranyi, critics said, was neither as efficient with his chances nor as skilled with the soccer ball as Bayern's Miroslav Klose or Stuttgart's Mario Gomez.
But before Euro 2008, Kuranyi hopes Schalke can qualify internationally
Kuranyi's four-goal barrage may have come against a small club having a very off night. But his second goal in particular -- a 29-meter blast after a bit of nifty dribbling -- showed that an in-form Kuranyi can create -- and convert -- opportunities.
And with Klose having only scored once in the second half of the season, ironically against Schalke on March 1, Kuranyi could make a case that he belong in Germany's starting 11. After all he has 14 goals overall -- to Klose's 10.
There's little chance that Loew will take the harsh step of benching Klose, who's been a first-team stalwart for Germany for years.
But Kuranyi can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Loew will now find it just as hard to leave him off the squad for Euro 2008.