Germans face struggle against Belgium
29 March 2004 , COLOGNE - Oliver Kahn gets a rest while other key players such as Michael Ballack have to prove their class when Germany continue their Euro 2004 countdown with a friendly against Belgium on Wednesday. In addition, it is about time that coach Rudi Voeller's strikers find the net again less than three months ahead of the continental finals in Portugal. Voeller has given his captain Kahn a rest which means that Arsenal's Jens Lehmann gets a rare chance between the posts in Cologne. Lehmann re
29 March 2004
COLOGNE - Oliver Kahn gets a rest while other key players such as Michael Ballack have to prove their class when Germany continue their Euro 2004 countdown with a friendly against Belgium on Wednesday.
In addition, it is about time that coach Rudi Voeller's strikers find the net again less than three months ahead of the continental finals in Portugal.
Voeller has given his captain Kahn a rest which means that Arsenal's Jens Lehmann gets a rare chance between the posts in Cologne.
Lehmann recently harshly criticised Kahn for blunders and his personal lifestyle, but has by now settled for his number 2 status behind the Bayern Munich stalwart.
Kahn's team-mate Ballack finally scored again on Saturday in a 5-2 league win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, which leaves Voeller optimistic that the playmaker will find back his top form from the 2002 World Cup.
Ballack's role in midfield is controversial in Munich, while Voeller plans to give him an attacking role to allow him to score more goals.
"Ballack can play every role. It is important that he penetrates the penalty area. We must field him in a way that allows him to show his strength. That's what we have to work on in our Euro preparations," Voeller said.
The coach has similar views about his strikers as Kevin Kuranyi, Fredi Bobic and Oliver Neuville have not found the net in a long time.
Miroslav Klose scored on Sunday night for the first time in 10 games in Kaiserslautern's 3-2 defeat in Hamburg, but he is doubtful because he injured himself in that game.
"We just have to make the most out of it," said Voeller, himself a former world class striker who won the 1990 World Cup as a player.
Voeller will have to stick to his marksmen and has also chosen to do the same with veteran defender Jens Nowotny although he is no longer a starter at Bayer Leverkusen owing to poor form in his comeback from two severe knee injuries.
"Jens will play from the start," said Voeller.
Voeller also insisted that the problems should not give way to a totally negative approach in the final weeks before the trip to Portugal, where the three-time champions Germany face a tough group with the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Latvia.
Belgium, by contrast, failed to qualify at all after co-hosting the 2000 edition with their Dutch neighbours.
Coach Aime Anthuenis has to replace the injured captain Bart Goor, goalkeeper Geert de Vlieger and striker Wesley Sonck.
But he nominated striker Emile Mpenza although the Standard Liege striker recently expressed harsh criticism on the state of football in Belgium.
Subject: German news
Lufthansa plans service charge
29 March 2004
FRANKFURT - German airline Lufthansa, scrambling to recover from record losses, aims to charge a service fee on sales of its tickets in a move which some analysts said could backfire and drive customers even more to the low-fare airlines, reports said Monday.
In the latest issue of the weekly magazine Focus, airline officials said Lufthansa, starting on 1 September aims to add a charge of EUR 30 per ticket on flights in Europe and EUR 45 on intercontinental flights.
The move would fall under Lufthansa's announced aim of listing ticket rates as a "net" price starting on that date.
The service charge would apply to ticket sales online, at Lufthansa counters and at the airline's telephone reservation centres. Those booking online would continue, as now is the case, to get a EUR 10 rebate.
At the same time, Lufthansa aims to stop paying a commission to travel bureaux, leaving it up to them whether or not to pass the cost on to the customers. The savings on commissions would help the airline cut its costs by EUR 100 million per year.
Lufthansa lost a record EUR 984 million in 2003, with the airline feeling the pinch not only from a sluggish economy and passenger worries about terrorism, but also the competition posed by low-fare carriers.
Analysts were questioning the wisdom of Lufthansa's move to charge for a "service" which amounts to a normal procedure of selling a ticket, coming at a time when no-frills airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet are posing stiffer competition.
Some analysts point out that for the same cost as the service surcharge planned at Lufthansa, customers can make an online booking for a complete flight in Europe.
In a commentary in the daily Die Welt, the paper called Lufthansa's move an "own goal" and criticised Lufthansa for "not even making the effort to provide a credible explanation". The paper said that it would not come as a surprise if Lufthansa were forced to quickly rescind the service charge.
Subject: German news