Captain Michael Ballack says Germany need to raise their game if they are to seal a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Ballack's call to arms on Monday comes just over five weeks before the UEFA EURO 2008 finalists face Russia in a pivotal Group 4 qualifier in Moscow. Germany go into that 10 October clash leading Guus Hiddink's Russians, who have a game in hand, by four points.

"We have to singularly improve our level of play if we want to be a candidate at the World Cup," the Chelsea midfielder told German news agency SID.

It would be good if other Germany players could find their way to
playing for big European sides. Germany didn't become world champions
in 1990 by chance - seven of that side were playing in Italy.

Michael Ballack

He added: "First of all we have to qualify, but if we make it through Germany will be one of the favourites based on our commitment and our good organisation which compensate for certain weak spots - that's how we reached the final at EURO 2008."

Looking ahead to the Russia game Ballack said: "We have to play at the same level as we did in the first leg (2-1 to Germany in October 2008) and for the moment we're far off that."

Before Germany face Azerbaijan in their next qualifier on 9 September, they have a friendly against 2010 hosts South Africa on Saturday.

"We have to play two good games to show that our top spot ahead of Russia is justified," added the Germany captain, who went on to regret that none of his team-mates played for other major European sides.

"It would be good if other Germany players could find their way to playing for big European sides. Germany didn't become world champions in 1990 by chance - seven of that side were playing in Italy."