Woodcock: Podolski has nothing to prove to Bayern in Champions League

Lukas Podolski in action for Bayern Munich in 2008

Lukas Podolski in action for Bayern Munich in 2008 - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Former Arsenal striker Tony Woodcock says Lukas Podolski has nothing to prove to Bayern Munich ahead of tonight’s Champions League last-16 clash.

The Germany forward spent an unproductive three years with the Bavarian giants, netting just 15 times in 71 appearances between 2006 and 2009 before moving back to his first love Cologne.

While many in his homeland see his spell with Germany’s most successful club as a huge failure, Woodcock doesn’t agree.

“I know Lukas and I know Bayern Munich – he moved back home to Cologne but I think he enjoyed his time in Munich and actually didn’t do as badly as some people seem to think,” said Woodcock.

Like Podolski, Woodcock knows Cologne and London well. His four years at Arsenal – between 1982 and 1986 – were sandwiched by spells in the Bundesliga with Cologne. He remained in Germany when his playing career ended, enjoying a brief spell in lower league management, before moving back to the UK.

He believes Podolski needs to concentrate on his own game, and not concern himself with his former employers.

“Lukas does not have to prove himself to Bayern at all,” says Woodcock, who retains a slight German accent after his years on the continent. “What Lukas has to do is prove a point to himself.

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“It’s strange because nobody seems to know where to play Lukas. He had this problem before in Germany too. Does he play on the left or does he play up front? He’s not really a second striker, but he’s not a midfielder.

“What we do know is he is a talented player and he can score goals. He is beginning to find his feet in London and is enjoying living here and playing for the Arsenal.”

Podolski has certainly embraced life in the capital with his new club – he even tweeted pictures of a family day out in the capital last week – netting 12 times so far this campaign.

In recent weeks he has hit his best form in red and white, something that bodes well ahead of the first leg at Emirates Stadium.

So does the form of midfielder Jack Wilshere.

“Anyone who knows him – or has seen his development at Arsenal over the past four or five years – will know he is going to be an exceptional player,” says Woodcock, who scored 56 times in 131 appearances for the Gunners.

“Coming back from a long-term injury like he has done, to perform so well and so consistently, has been very impressive.

“He is maturing quickly and is now getting to look like a top footballer. He is aggressive, technically superb and can pass the ball.

“He will be up against a very confident Munich side, with a very good midfield, so this will be another big test for him – but he is playing in the Champions League and looks completely at home in the big games.”

As Woodcock says, Bayern arrive in London full of confidence. They are the runaway leaders in the Bundesliga as manager Jupp Heynckes looks to sign off with a title win before handing the reins to former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.

“Bayern are in a good place at the moment,” says the 57-year-old. “I strongly believe it is one of the best-run – if not THE best-run – club in Germany, and maybe in Europe.

“They have people in the club who have a business background and they want to build on the club’s fantastic tradition.

“They also bring in former players to keep that tradition going, and to maintain that know-how. But, believe me, this is not ‘jobs for the boys’.

“I know their chairman Uli Hoeness and he will always say that he wants to build on that great tradition. They are flying at the moment and this will be a difficult tie for Arsenal – but never rule the Gunners out. It should be a great couple of games.”