Motivated Ballack joins Germany for Belarus friendly
Captain Michael Ballack shook off his Champions League disappointment as he joined his Germany team-mates on Monday for final Euro 2008 preparations including two tuneup games, dpa reported.
Ballack did not attend the first part of the team's training camp on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca as he was engaged in Wednesday's continental showpiece match in Moscow which his team Chelsea lost on penalties against Manchester United.
The playmaker was then given a few days off by Germany coach Joachim Loew to recuperate ahead of Euro 2008 which is played June 7- 29 in Austria and Switzerland.
"I am looking forward to this new challenge. I am motivated nd seek the Euro title with the team," said Ballack after a first training session in Homburg.
Ballack was joined by only 19 players ahead of Germany's match on Tuesday against Belarus in Kaiserslautern. The team will then fly back to Majorca for another few days of training before a final test against Serbia on Saturday in Gelsenkirchen.
Loew said that Ballack will play at least part of the match "because it is important that he gets back into the team swiftly."
Loew nominated only 20 players from his provisional squad of 26 for the Belarus match because Tim Borowski and Arne Friedrich are ill, Rene Adler and Mario Gomez nursing minor injuries, and Kevin Kuranyi and Simon Rolfes to get a rest.
"It makes sense (to keep them in Majorca)," said Loew, who also had some problems in the form of a nagging toothache on Monday.
The coach may also have some headaches as he will have to trim down his squad to the official 23 Euro players by the UEFA deadline at noon on Wednesday.
"It will be a very tough decision for the coach," said striker Miroslav Klose.
Loew will likely drop three players from Jermaine Jones, Patrick Helmes, Oliver Neuville, David Odonkor and Piotr Trochowski. All of them will get some playing time on Tuesday and uncapped teenager Marko Marin, who is tipped to make the Euro-squad, will also play.
But the majority of starters on Tuesday will be those who also played at the 2006 World Cup, with Christoph Metzelder returning into defence from a long-term injury, and Torsten Frings also back.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will earn his 50th cap at the young age of 23 as the Bayern Munich midfielder admitted "I am quite surprised how quickly this (the 50th cap) has happened."
The week's two games will be the last opportunities for fine- tuning ahead of Germany's first Euro match next week Sunday (June 8) against Poland - and to get the fans into the right mood as well.
"We want to play in such a way that we get the full fan support. We want to attack. We will deliver a good game, but obviously not yet at the level we aim to achieve at Euro," said Klose.