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Ballack praises Netherlands and says impressive Germany has room to improve at Euro 2008

Ballack praises Netherlands and says impressive Germany has room to improve at Euro 2008

Germany and the Netherlands are fierce rivals on the football field, so it's surprising to hear German captain Michael Ballack lauding the Dutch's opening display at the European Championship.
"I was impressed, I was surprised," Ballack said Tuesday, a day after The Netherlands' 3-0 demolition of World Cup champion Italy. "But it was no surprise to see good football, the tournament needed it."
It's easy to be magnanimous, though, when your won team is coming off as impressive a performance as Germany's 2-0 opening win over Poland.
Ballack thought Germany was at about "80-85 percent" in that match, leaving room to improve for Thursday's game against Croatia _ again in Klagenfurt..
"It was a very good first performance, there were no gaps in our lines," Ballack said. "We'll be more challenged against Croatia, we can't make mistakes. We want to go into the final and we'll have to improve."
Germany is looking for a record fourth title and has been installed as favorite by the bookmakers. It justified the role with a strong display against Poland, but Ballack said the real test would be Croatia.
"They will be more offensive, they are very ambitious, they won to win the title. And they beat England twice (in qualifying)," he said.
Lukas Podolski scored both goals against the country of his birth after making a rare start in left midfield instead in his usual place as striker. Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez played as forwards and created plenty of space for Podolski to use with his speed.
Ballack thought the system worked well.
"I don't see that any changes are needed. But of course, it's up to the coach _ and it depends on the rival as well. maybe we'll change one or two positions," he said.
Although Klose and Gomez did not score against Poland, Ballack said the attack remained Germany's strongest asset.
"That's where we have the least problems," he said.
Coach Joachim Loew kept his cards close to himself, as usual, except to say that all 23 players were fit and available.
"Not many changes will happen, but one or two players may be new, we'll see," Loew said. "We have a deep team and some younger players are pushing vehemently in practice for a place in the starting lineup."
Loew praised Croatia as a "refined" team, with "excellent players" who know how to change the pace of the game and slow it down _ a game plan Germany sometimes finds difficult to overcome.
"We know a lot of them from the Bundesliga," he said.


Updated : 2021-06-17 09:53 GMT+08:00