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FOOTBALL

Hungary friendly a test for World Cup team

Germany prepare for life without captain Michael Ballack when they face Hungary in Budapest on Saturday in their penultimate World Cup warm-up.

Hungary friendly a test for World Cup team
Photo: DPA

With Ballack out with an ankle injury, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm will reportedly take over the captain’s armband to lead the side in South Africa.

Germany’s Bayern players might be rested by coach Joachim Löw to give them some extra rest after last Saturday’s Champions League final defeat and Löw will look at different options to replace Ballack in midfield.

Coached by former Dutch midfielder Erwin Koeman, the Hungarians are expected to give the Germans the same kind of test at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium as Group D opponents Serbia in South Africa.

With Ballack out and Lahm set to take charge, Löw is expected to name Schalke 04 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer between the posts in Budapest in place of injured first-choice Rene Adler.

Bremen’s Tim Wiese is set for a place on the bench with Bayern Munich’s 35-year-old goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt unable to train on Thursday with an upset stomach.

With Ballack out after injuring his ankle in the FA Cup final nearly two weeks ago, midfielder Thomas Müller says it is down to the rest of the squad to raise their game to compensate.

“It’s not about who wears the armband,” said Müller. “After the loss of Ballack, experienced players like Klose, Schweinsteiger and Lahm must now step up.

“Just because one person is captain, they won’t turn around and say: ‘I have the armband, so I am boss.'”

While Germany lost both midfielders Ballack and Christian Träsch with ankle injuries in recent weeks, Hungary have a few injury concerns of their own.

“The conditions for preparation could have been better,” said Koeman. “There have been a few injuries and this match is a big challenge for us, but it is essential to play the big teams like Germany or the Netherlands to get us ready for our Euro 2012 campaign.”

While Hungary have failed to qualify for the World Cup, Germany start their campaign on June 13 against Australia and fly to the Republic on June 7 after their final warm-up game against Bosnia-Herzegovina next Thursday.

But there could be problems waiting for them in South Africa as soon as they get off the plane.

Germany spokesman Harald Stenger said on Thursday there are no plans to switch their World Cup base in Pretoria even though their reserved hotel has alleged problems between the owners and the local authorities over licences.

South African media report the Velmore Grande hotel near Pretoria, where the German team will be based from June 7 onwards, does not have the permits demanded by South African authorities.

“I can only say that this is an issue between Fifa, the agency Match, through which we booked the hotel, South African authorities and the hotel itself,” said Stenger.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said the German Football Federation (DFB) was aware there are problems, but said it was confident the issue will be resolved.

“Sometimes things in South Africa are ready in the last minute. But we fully trust Fifa that we will move into our Velmore Grande base,” said Bierhoff.

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FOOTBALL

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.

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