Germany upbeat for World Cup kickoff despite Ballack injury
8 June 2006, BERLIN - Not even the loss of captain Michael Ballack could dampen the upbeat mood of coach Juergen Klinsmann on the eve of the World Cup opener between the hosts and Costa Rica.
8 June 2006
BERLIN - Not even the loss of captain Michael Ballack could dampen the upbeat mood of coach Juergen Klinsmann on the eve of the World Cup opener between the hosts and Costa Rica.
The German team flew to Munich Thursday with their key player still labouring under a calf injury and resigned to the fact that he would be watching the tournament's inaugural game from the sidelines.
Whether the 29-year-old midfielder will now be ready for Germany's second Group A match, against Poland in Dortmund on Wednesday, remains a matter of conjecture.
Ballack was only able to train 30 minutes with the side on Wednesday evening - his only session since taking a knock on the right calf in last Friday's friendly against Colombia.
"It is a pity. He is our captain and our leader but it is important for us that he regains full fitness and takes part in regular training and will be hopefully ready for us for the second game," Klinsmann said.
Klinsmann is now thought likely to replace Ballack with Tim Borowski of Werder Bremen or Sebastian Kehl of Borussia Dortmund.
Costa Rica reportedly also have injury woes although it remained unclear whether goalkeeper Jose Porras, Mauricio Solis and Gilberto Martinez were really as badly hurt as suggested by team doctor Gerardo Artavia who said Thursday that "they couldn't play if the game was today."
Coach Alexandre Guimaraes, meanwhile, hopes to create an upset with firm defence, tactical skill and plenty of determination, and his men are ready to play their heart out.
"We don't have Germany's quality. But why shouldn't we win? We have a great atmosphere, we are fully motivated and ready for a surprise," said forward Paul Wanchope.
But Klinsmann doesn't want the German show spoilt in the first meeting with Costa Rica after almost two years of intensive planning for the tournament.
"We are really looking forward to this opening game. We have been working towards this for a long time," he said.
"The mood in the team is outstanding. We can't wait for it to start at long last. We are looking forward to playing before the Munich crowd and to the atmosphere. We are all excited. The intensive preparation is now coming to an end and we have our first big test. We are full of confidence."
The World Cup opening game will be the first official international in the Munich stadium, although Germany played against Bayern Munich last year to open the newly-built Allianz Arena ground.
The Germans have traditionally got off to good starts in their World Cup tournaments. In the 15 times they have participated so far, they have suffered only one defeat - a 2-1 loss to Algeria in 1982 in Spain when they still managed to reach the final.
The 2002 opening World Cup match saw favourites and title-holders France go down to a shock 1-0 defeat to Senegal. But Klinsmann said there was no danger of his side underestimating the Costa Ricans.
"We have great respect for Costa Rica. We have watched them closely and we know every single player ... They will be playing before a gigantic crowd. It's their moment, they will be making life extremely difficult for us," Klinsmann said.
Ballack aside, Klinsmann has no other injury worries apart from a back problem to third goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand. The coach was giving nothing away on his line-up, but apart from Ballack the team which started against Colombia last Friday is thought to be his favoured formation.
Likely Germany line-up: Jens Lehmann - Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Christoph Metzelder, Arne Friedrich - Bastian Schweinsteiger, Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski, Bernd Schneider - Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.
Likely Costa Rica line-up: Jose Porras - Michael Umana, Douglas Sequeira, Luis Marin - Gilberto Martinez, Mauricio Solis, Danny Fonseca, Leonardo Gonzalez - Walter Centeno, Ronald Gomez, Paulo Wanchope.
Subject: German news