Ballack says national team focused on beating Russia in qualifier
AFP · 30 Sep 2009, 08:14
Published: 30 Sep 2009 08:14 GMT+02:00
Germany are just one point clear at the top of the Group Four table ahead of deadly rivals Russia, but should Ballack’s team beat the home side at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium they will be uncatchable.
“We are devoting all our focus, energy and commitment to the match,” said the Chelsea star. “We can’t let the artificial pitch be an excuse for us - we’ll just have to adapt to the conditions. Russia have got a strong team and they have got results in the past, so we will have to be at our very best if we are to get something out of our trip to Moscow.”
Having turned 33 last week, Ballack has said he will consider retiring after next June’s World Cup and is eager to finish on a high after finishing as runner-up in 2002 and then coming in third in 2006.
“Both World Cups were really tough for me emotionally as a player,” said the former Bayern Munich star. “In 2002, we amazed everybody by getting to the final, and I scored the winners in the 1-0 victories in the quarter and semi-finals, only to be suspended for the final. That was a bitter pill, it really was.”
Germany have a habit of turning on the style for the big tournaments and despite a poor start at Euro 2008 when they lost in the group stages to Croatia, they went on to lose 1-0 to Spain in the final.
Coach Joachim Löw is set to announce his squad for the trip to Moscow and the game against Finland in Hamburg on October 14 later this week.