The return of Michael Ballack and Ronaldo's
absence could see Germany turn the tables on Brazil when they meet in
today's Confederations Cup semi-final, three years on from the World Cup
Ballack, the heartbeat of the German team then as now, was suspended in
Yokohama on June 30, 2002 as Ronaldo scored twice in Brazil's 2-0 win
over Germany to give Brazil their fifth World Cup win.
The odds are stacking up in favour of a German victory when the sides
resume hostilities in historic Nuremberg with a place in the final
against Mexico or Argentina at stake.
Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaka and Adriano have shown flashes of brilliance
but all four forwards are starting to wilt. Ronaldo, excused the
competition after he asked for an extended holiday, is really starting
to be missed.
Germany have had an extra day's rest, having clinched first place in
Group A with a 2-2 draw against Argentina on Tuesday, and they will be
buoyed by the support of a 42,000 capacity crowd at the Frankenstadion.
“Some of our good players are exhausted,” Parreira recognised after his
side had only just managed to hold on for a 2-2 draw with Japan and make
it into the semi-finals behind Mexico.
“We have to have a good think about the line-up for the match.
“Germany rested good players for their last game, they've had an extra
day to rest and the match is very important to them as the host nation.”
Germany have not beaten a top-class team for 13 internationals since
October 2000 and coach Juergen Klinsmann would love to end that annoying
One of Klinsmann's first matches in charge was a 1-1 draw with Brazil in
a friendly international in September 2004 to celebrate the re-opening
of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the venue for next year's World Cup
It is clear that Germany are moving in the right direction under
Klinsmann, who has nurtured young players such as Robert Huth and Per
Mertesacker in defence, Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield and Lukas
Podolski in attack.
The question is how such a young side will perform against mighty Brazil,
a team led by World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and packed with
quality, even if Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu are missing.
“I'm looking forward to the Brazil match but I'm also a bit nervous,”
Mertesacker said. “I always get a little nervous before matches but then
at the decisive moment it's important not to show any nerves.
“I respect them, but I'm not afraid. It's important to make the strikers
Jens Lehmann will play in goal against Brazil, with Oliver Kahn
returning for the final or third-place match.
Arne Friedrich should return from suspension at right-back but
Schweinsteiger is out after picking up his second yellow card against
Argentina. Torsten Frings is likely to come in.
Parreira gave his players a day off on Thursday. There are no serious
injuries but the coach will wait to see how his players perform in
training before deciding on the team.
“We want to win this competition,” Parreira said. “We'll choose the best
team we can, depending on the physical and mental state of each man.”
The second semi-final between Argentina and Mexico takes place in
Hannover tomorrow. The final is in Frankfurt on Wednesday.