Ballack back as Germany captain

BAYER LEVERKUSEN midfielder Michael Ballack is to remain captain of Germany, coach Joachim Low has confirmed.

The issue has been a hot topic in the country since Philipp Lahm took over the role for the World Cup in South Africa, which Ballack missed because of injury.

Both players had expressed their desire to wear the armband, but ahead of their opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels tomorrow, Low has made his decision – and also confirmed his number one goalkeeper.

“Michael Ballack will remain captain, Manuel Neuer is in goal,” said Low.

Low came to the decision after talks with former Chelsea man Ballack, who turns 34 this month.

“After a personal, open and trustful talk with Michael Ballack, I have decided that he will continue to be captain of our team,” he said.

“Philipp Lahm, who completed the task excellently at the World Cup, will be Michael’s deputy. When Philipp is not there, Bastian Schweinsteiger will fill in.”

Neuer has gained the goalkeeping job full time after fulfilling the roll in South Africa.

It means Ballack’s clubmate Rene Adler, who had been number one before missing out on the World Cup through injury, drops down the order.

“We said Rene Adler was the number one but that there was a chance for Manuel Neuer,” said Low.

“We’re now going with Manuel Neuer. As long as he’s fit and playing well, he will play in the qualifiers.”

Germany face Belgium tomorrow before returning to Germany to host Azerbaijan in Cologne on Tuesday.

Low will be forced to make a number of changes to accommodate the return of Ballack and also deal with the absence of defenders Arne Friedrich and Jerome Boateng.

However, Low is expecting nothing but maximum points from the team which so impressed in South Africa.

“We have to have a good start and the aim is to take six points,” he said. “I expect a highly motivated Belgian team.”

Also in Group A are Turkey, Austria and Kazakhstan.


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