Germany's injured captain Michael Ballack says their time has come to win the FIFA World Cup™ for a fourth time. The 33-year-old, who was ruled out of the tournament after suffering an ankle injury, admitted avenging the UEFA EURO 2008 final defeat by Spain in their semi-final in Durban would be difficult, but he believes his compatriots can do it.
"It will be difficult to beat Spain tonight, but this is our time," said Ballack, who has rejoined one of his former clubs, Bayer Leverkusen, after being released by Chelsea. "Germany have been the best team in the World Cup and just have to keep it going. Spain deserved to win the European Championship final against us two years ago, but with the confidence we've gained from our past two performances (a 4-1 win over old foes England and a 4-0 humbling of Argentina), I think its our moment."
Ballack, who missed out on the 2002 FIFA World Cup final defeat by Brazil as he was suspended and was in the side that lost to Spain in the UEFA EURO 2008 final, said that Germany, like Spain two years ago, had peaked at the right time. "We're playing the best football in the tournament, just as Spain did two years ago," he said. "Every team have ups and downs, but its a great skill to peak for a tournament. A German skill, I think England played very well in qualifying but made no impact at the tournament. We're England in reverse."
Ballack added that it was not possible to compare the present German side and that of the one who won as West Germany in 1990. "Its great to play nice football, but this team need to win something," he said. "We're only in the semi-finals and there's no point putting in two great performances and losing. The 1990 team were winners and that's what we want to be. The point of entering a tournament is to win it."
Ballack admitted that Germany would miss young rising star Thomas Muller, who is suspended for their semi-final clash in Durban. "Thomas Muller will be missed against Spain because he scores goals, creates assists and works hard for the team," said Ballack. "Everyone in Germany has been surprised by his success. When I was at Bayern Munich four years ago, I didn't even know who he was because he was just one of many 16-year-old kids. He wasn't like Wayne Rooney in England, whom everyone knew was going to be a big star."
Ballack said that Muller's absence would place even greater focus on striker Miroslav Klose - who like Mueler has scored four goals at the finals. "Without him (Muller), Klose will be even more important," he said. "He's an unusual player, who has always needed the trust of the coach. But if he feels the manager likes him, he will play well, and that's what he gets with the national team."