Spain and Germany injury woes continue ahead of Euro final
Spain and Germany continued to be haunted by injury woes ahead of the Euro 2008 final between the two countries set for Sunday night, with David Villa and Michael Ballack all but ruled out.
Spain coach Luis Aragones was expected to be without his top striker David Villa for the match due to kick off at 1845 GMT, the dpa reported.
The Euro 2008 top striker with four goals injured himself during Spain's semi-final clash against Russia.
Spanish officials have not said that the Valencia forward will definitely not play, but it is widely expected that Cesc Fabregas will move into the starting line-up in his place.
Aragones, whose decision to step down as Spain coach after the tournament was final, said late Saturday that Villa's absence "will have an influence," without committing to the absence.
"We will be less able to come to the penalty area, but it will help us to be stronger in midfield. I haven't decided anything yet, and perhaps we will have two forwards who can show they have goals in their legs."
Germany coach Joachim Loew, meanwhile, was sweating over the availability of captain Michael Ballack, who missed training Friday and Saturday after developing calf muscle problems.
German manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Saturday night that the team was still hopeful that the inspirational Chelsea midfielder would be able to lead his side to their first international success since 1996 when captain Juergen Klinsmann lifted the Euro trophy.
Ironically, Klinsmann's participation in the final was doubtful due to a calf injury which forced him to miss the semi-final, but he took his place and then inspired the team to a 2-1 victory against the Czech Republic.
Bierhoff said that he was confident that should Ballack not play, Loew would find an adequate replacement.
"I am certain that the team has players who can take over. Also his role as leader on the field should be no problem, as we have others with a lot of experience who can take on responsibilities."
Football fans worldwide and - more importantly - the opposing side would presumably have to wait for an 90 minutes before kick-off before the final word on the Villa and Ballack saga is spoken, as it is only then that the team line-ups have to be announced.