Oleh: hendradp | Juni 29, 2008

Hitz hoping for Ballack boost

Talismanic midfielder Ballack is the big fitness worry for Germany heading into Sunday’s clash against Spain at Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadion, with the Chelsea man having been unable to train since Friday because of a calf problem.

It is touch and go whether Germany coach Joachim Low will be able to call on his skipper, and Hitzlsperger concedes that losing Ballack would be a blow to the team for a number of different reasons.

“He has proved over the years that he is such an important player, he has scored some important goals in the big games,” said the Stuttgart player.

“He’s proved it at Premier League level and showed his quality there. His main strength in my opinion is his ability to score so many goals, but he also has the presence that you need on the pitch.

“He is definitely a leader of the team who young players can look up to, and that’s what we need tomorrow.”

While Ballack has a wealth of experience at international level, Hitzlsperger concedes it is not the same for every player in the Germany squad, pointing out for many that Sunday’s is probably the biggest match they have played in.

“It’s the biggest game of my career, I’ve had some good games so far but this is the best moment of my career,” the 26-year-old said.

“We are all very focused, we know how big this game is and for most players it’s probably their first final at this level.”

Ballack is not the only big-name player who may be missing on Sunday, with Spain already robbed of striker David Villa because of a hamstring strain.

Villa is the leading scorer at Euro 2008 with four goals, but Hitzlsperger believes Spain have more than enough talent to cope with the Valencia hitman’s loss.

“He (Villa) is a very good player but the entire team is good and they don’t only depend on one player like David Villa, even though he has scored the most goals for them,” he said.

“They are such a good side that I think they can compensate if he’s not playing.

“We have been talking about Spain a lot, they are a very good side and they have proved it in their five games, where they have always been the best team.

“We know they are a good passing side and we need to be careful and we need to close them down early, and I’m sure if we do that we have a good chance to win tomorrow.

“There’s two good teams facing each other tomorrow, the Spanish team has been playing very well. We’ve had some difficulties but I think we deserve to be in this final, and I think it is going to be a very good game.

“It doesn’t matter who are the favourites, it’s about 90 or 120 minutes of hopefully good football.”



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