Senin, 09 Agustus 2010

Ballack: Germany captain or retirement?

Germany play their first international friendly after the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday against Denmark in Copenhagen and due to the inappropriate date only seven members of the World Cup squad will make the trip north with all key players not part of the team. It gives national coach Joachim Loew the forced chance to have a look at his back-up.

But the match isn't the main talking point at the moment here in Germany. The discussions surrounding Michael Ballack and his future in the German national team is still grabbing headline news. Will Ballack remain captain, will he return as just another player and not captain, or will he in the end retire.

Ballack himself had said last week that he would like to continue to play up to the European Championships 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine. But Ballack has left the final decision to coach Loew, who will have to make a difficult decision ahead of Germany's first Euro2012 qualifier against Belgium on September 3. And for the moment Loew or manager Oliver Bierhoff are staying silent on the issue.

The general public expect Ballack to return to the squad in September for the qualifiers if he gets some games for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and Europa League under his belt, but some want to wait and see in what shape the (former) captain is before he is recalled. But then there are others who are saying outright that Ballack should retire and allow the young German team develop further.

And then there is Philipp Lahm, the stand-in captain at the World Cup for Ballack. The Bayern Munich wing back has reiterated again and again in the German media that he would like to remain captain as he is enjoying the added responsibility, but like Ballack he has said that the final decision rests with coach Loew.

It looks like this topic will keep on coming back in the public limelight until the final squad for the Belgium qualifier is announced. A topic which fills pages of newspapers over the summer break...

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