Injured Ballack doubtful for Germany in Euro final

June 29th, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, June 29 (DPA) Injured German captain Michael Ballack is a doubtful starter in Sunday’s Euro 2008 final against Spain at the Happel Stadium here. “Michael Ballack hasn’t been able to train for two days. His calf has hardened up,” said coach Joachim Loew after Saturday’s practice session .

“It wasn’t possible for him to train today either but we will see how the situation develops overnight. Our medical team is working constantly to try to give him every possible chance of playing.”

Loew said that if the Chelsea midfielder fails to recover in time, either Tim Borowski or Bastian Schweinsteiger would fill his forward midfield role.

A similar problem with his right calf saw Ballack miss the first game of the 2006 World Cup. He also missed the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil through suspension.

“Our medical team is working with him around the clock to make his participation possible, but we have to think seriously about alternatives,” Loew said, adding that should the captain not play, he would not make huge changes to the tactics.

Loew said that he had spoken to Ballack Saturday afternoon and didn’t find him despondent. “He was not depressed as he knows that he still has a chance to play.

“Obviously it is a huge blow for any player not to play in a final, but we will just have to see what happens.”

Loew added that he had no idea how the injury occurred. “It happens in a game that players receive a knock and only notice it after a game.”

Ballack stayed at the team’s hotel for treatment Saturday evening.

German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger said that they would obviously miss Ballack if he could not play, but that he was not worried that the Chelsea player had missed training if he could play.

“Of course it would better if he could have trained but it has happened before that he has not trained and then fitted in well into the game.

“He has proved over many years that he is a very good player and he has shown that he is a great leader. He scores a lot of goals and that is his main strength, in my opinion.”

The VfB Stuttgart player said that he had no idea whether Ballack was thinking of retiring from international football soon. “He has not mentioned this, but it makes no difference to us. We want to win the game.”

Ballack even received some support from one of the Spanish players early Saturday evening. “He’s a very important player, but I am a footballer,” said Carles Puyol.

“I would love everyone to be on the field because this is a unique chance. I would feel for him if he wasn’t able to play.”

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