Just hours before his side’s quarter-final against Argentina, Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger insisted injured captain Michael Ballack will return to the German team after the World Cup.
Having injured his ankle in last month’s FA Cup final playing for his former club Chelsea, Ballack will be in the stands here on Saturday at Green Point Stadium when Germany play Diego Maradona’s Argentina with a semi-final at stake next Wednesday in Durban.
With an average age of just under 25, Germany have been impressive so far at this World Cup, but Schweinsteiger says the experience of 33-year-old Ballack has been missed.
‘Obviously, he will come back,’ said the Bayern Munich’s Schweinsteiger.
‘It may well be that we could play much better with him in the side.
‘You will notice that here and there, we have lacked a bit of experience.’ Schweinsteiger used the example of this year’s Champions League, won by Jose Mourinho-coached Inter Milan against Bayern in May’s Madrid final, to highlight the benefit of experience.
‘I saw it in the Champions League with Bayern, teams like Chelsea, Barcelona and Bayern are playing better than Milan, but Inter brought a lot of experience to win the trophy.’
Under coach Joachim Low, Germany have unearthed a wealth of young talent at this World Cup with 20-year-old Thomas Mueller scoring twice in the 4-1 rout of England in the round of 16.
Midfielder Mesut Ozil and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer have both cemented their places, despite the former being 21 and the latter 24, while 22-year-old Sami Khedira has stepped into Ballack’s vacated midfield role with assurance.
Of the 23-man squad, 11 players have their roots outside of Germany and Schweinsteiger says the multi-cultural diversity has been a bonus for the current team.
‘The multicultural influences have revived the team,’ said Schweinsteiger.
‘Through our small multi-cultural team, of Polish, Turkish and Tunisian segments, we are playing with some assurance.
‘Guys like (Polish-born) Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil (who has Turkish parents) or Sami Khedira (who has a Tunisian passport) bring a different temperament to the team,’ said Schweinsteiger.
‘Even in my veins flows a little foreign blood,’ revealed the 25-year-old from Bavaria.
‘My great-grandfather was Dutch. I like the Dutch way of playing football.
‘The Netherlands is a small country and time and again produce very good players.’
(Agence France-Presse . Cape Town)