GERMANY vs SPAIN
By NESHA STARCEVIC, AP Sports Writer Sat Jun 28, 1:32 PM ET
VIENNA, Austria - Germany captain Michael Ballack missed his team's last practice Saturday because of a calf injury, putting him in doubt for Sunday's European Championship final against Spain. The German soccer federation said Ballack hurt his right calf Friday and did not train that day either, adding that he was receiving treatment at the team hotel. No other details were immediately available; Friday's practice was not open to the media.
"We have to see how it develops overnight," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "They are working around the clock on him.It was unthinkable that he would have been able to train today." The 31-year-old Chelsea midfielder, a key factor in Germany reaching the final, missed out on the 2002 World Cup title game because of a suspension. Brazil beat Germany 2-0 for the championship. He also missed the opening game of the 2006 World Cup because of a calf injury.
Ballack, who can both orchestrate and finish off his team's attacks, has scored two goals in five matches at Euro 2008. He hit a blistering free kick against Austria in a first-round match, and headed in the winning goal in the 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Portugal. Germany flew to the Austrian capital earlier Saturday from its base in southern Switzerland. The federation did not release any information on Ballack's injury until he did not show up for the last practice session before the final match.
Ballack's absence would be a severe blow to Germany's hopes of lifting a record fourth European title. Ballack was also looking for his first major title - naturally, he would get if his teammates beat Spain even without him. Spain is also missing a key player, forward David Villa.
Loew revealed little about his possible starting lineup during the practice session. Loew had been expected to start the same group that beat Portugal in the quarterfinals and then Turkey in the semifinals, except for midfielder Torsten Frings returning in place of Simon Rolfes. But if Ballack is unable to play, Loew could reshuffle his team in more ways.
Michael Ballack dressed for practice today in Vienna.