‘You can’t give Claudio any space at all'
Claudio Pizarro is a veteran among strikers but the Peruvian showed all his footballing class again at the weekend when he lobbed the ball over two opponents and volleyed home for Werder Bremen against Hannover. The long-serving former FCB goal-getter is now 37 and currently leads the Bundesliga scoring chart since the winter break with nine goals as he spearheads Werder’s drive to escape the drop zone.
Pizza returns to the Allianz Arena with Bremen on Saturday. The former Peru captain wore the red shirt of Bayern for a total of nine years (2001-07, 2012-15), winning the league title six times and the DFB Cup on five occasions. He was also a member of the treble winning squad in 2012-13.
Pizarro and Rafinha were team-mates in Munich for three years from 2012-15 and the pair have been friends ever since. Prior to Saturday’s reunion, fcbayern.de spoke to Rafa about Pizza, leading the Brazilian right-back to conclude: “We won’t be friends for 90 minutes on Saturday.”
fcbayern.de: Rafa, have you seen Claudio’s goal from last weekend?
Rafinha: “Of course. It goes to show yet again that goalscoring is Claudio’s speciality. He’s ruthless in the penalty area. You always have to keep an eye on him and you can’t give him any space at all. We know Claudio well - and we also know how to deal with him.”
fcbayern.de: Are you surprised at how well he’s playing at the age of 37?
Rafinha: “It’s no surprise to me personally. We played, trained and lived together at Bayern, and I know what he’s capable of. He’s so experienced, he still has his legs and he still gets upset when things go wrong on the pitch. That’s good. I hope he gets to play for another couple of years yet.”
fcbayern.de: What do you think is typical Pizarro?
Rafinha: “It’s simply because Claudio is South American. We were always laughing and having fun together. Those were really good times, we won a lot of trophies together at Bayern. But we also got together away from football a lot. He’s a very good friend of mine and a fantastic person. In my first year in Munich - until Claudio moved back to Bayern – I even lived in his house.”
fcbayern.de: How close are you these days?
Rafinha: “We text each other a lot, although not as much this week. We won’t be friends for 90 minutes out on the pitch on Saturday, but we’ll be laughing together again after the game. My hope is that he plays well – and we win.”