Ballack asks Germany coach to play Euro team for last test

May 30th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by admin  

Palma de Majorca (Spain), May 30 (DPA) Germany captain Michael Ballack urged coach Joachim Loew to field a full-strength side against Serbia Saturday in the national team’s last test before the European Championships. The Chelsea midfielder said Thursday that the friendly international in Gelsenkirchen should be used to play in the team that is likely to start at next month’s tournament rather than make further experiments.

“I would be pleased - and it is important - that the last match before the European Championships is used to play the team in,” he said.

“Tests are also tests in that the best 11 play. The game will show us where we stand. Everyone one of us wants to enjoy the two free days afterwards with a good feeling.”

Loew had indicated Wednesday after naming his final 23-man squad that the side he picks against Serbia may not necessarily be the team that plays Poland on June 8 in Klagenfurt, Austria, in Germany’s first match at the June 7-29 tournament.

For the first time since Germany began their training camp on Majorca on May 19, Loew had every player on board Thursday.

Marcell Jansen, who had experienced muscular problems, and his Bayern team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger, who took an ankle knock in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Belarus, both completed training.

Ballack was in confident mood ahead of the tournament in Austria and Switzerland, saying he had put the disappointment of defeat with Chelsea in the Champions League final behind him.

The 31-year-old, looking for his first international title, said he could not imagine Germany being eliminated at the group stage as at the 2000 and 2004 tournaments. Expectations were higher than in recent years, he said.

“We take on the challenge of being among the favourites. We were third at the (2006) World Cup, why shouldn’t we be confident of reaching the final,” Ballack said.

“After the good qualification we have won a lot of self-confidence.”

Germany will be looking for a markedly improved performance against Serbia than in the 2-2 draw with Belarus in Kaiserslautern on Tuesday when the players admitted they were tired after some tough training sessions.

Ballack said improvements were needed from individual players and indicated the team was looking for a better defensive display.

“I hope we can take a decisive step forward against Serbia. The defence is everything.” he said, adding that against Poland “there will be no more excuses, everyone has to be top fit.”

Despite Ballack’s call for Loew to pick his best team, there are question marks for the coach in attack.

Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez has not been able to train fully over the past 10 days while Schalke frontman Kevin Kuranyi may not have done enough in training to force his way into the side.

Lukas Podolski, a reserve most of the season at Bayern Munich, started against Belarus and is showing the form in training which made him the regular partner to Miroslav Klose before and during the the 2006 World Cup, where he was voted best young player.

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