DFB demands Ballack step up national team leadership

Captain Michael Ballack must lead the German national team by example as the squad looks to bounce back from home defeats in their last two games, German Football Federation (DFB) boss Theo Zwanziger said on Wednesday.

DFB demands Ballack step up national team leadership

Germany faces minnows Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday in Leipzig, but after home defeats by Norway and England in their last two games, Chelsea star Ballack must lead his team to a comfortable victory, insisted Zwanziger.

“Ballack must lead from the front,” Zwanziger told German magazine Sport Bild.

Ballack landed himself in hot water with the DFB last October for accusing Germany coach Joachim Löw of not showing his senior players enough respect and loyalty.

The Germany captain apologised two weeks later, but neither Ballack nor Löw came out of the episode with any credit.

With Germany at the top of their qualifying group and unbeaten four games straight, they need two big wins in their qualifiers in Leipzig this Saturday and in Cardiff on April 1 against Wales to boost flagging confidence.

“If the team play well against Liechtenstein and Wales and deliver the six points, I expect issues which have been discussed in the past will quickly fade as a topic,” said Zwanziger, referring to last year’s public spat between Ballack and Löw.

And it seems Ballack has been working hard behind the scenes to build bridges within the Germany squad.

“We notice in discussions and conversations Michael has changed and we see a completely positive attitude from him in the team environment,” said Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

Bierhoff and Ballack had an on field spat immediately after the Euro 2008 final 1-0 defeat to Spain in Vienna last June, but Bierhoff has defended Ballack from recent criticism within the Germany squad.

Injured Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose, who has captained Germany on several occasions, said Ballack must work hard to lead both on and off the field, and Bierhoff took exception to Klose’s comments.

“These comments were senseless, because they do nothing to help the team, and the timing was unfortunate so close to the game,” said Bierhoff.

With ten years experience of international football behind him, Ballack has said he will work with new members of the squad, but Germany need a big win over Liechtenstein – ranked 151 in the world – to boost confidence.

“It doesn’t matter if we are playing Liechtenstein or Wales, the opposition is not important, we just have to win both games and get the points,” said striker Lukas Podolski defiantly.


British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.