Stamford Bridge man out of showpiece tournament. Ill timed tackle a planned attack?
Germany captain Michael Ballack has been ruled out of this summer’s World Cup because of the right ankle injury he suffered in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
The 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder has made 98 appearances for his country and played in the last two World Cups.
A scan showed damage to two ligaments but it is expected to be eight weeks before he can resume training and Germany’s first match is on 13 June.
“It’s bitter to get a diagnosis like that before the World Cup,” he said.
Ballack was injured after a challenge by Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Ironically, Boateng could be part of the Ghana squad that will face Germany in Group D at the finals in South Africa.
The former Tottenham player was born in Germany and represented German youth teams but chose to play for Ghana, his father’s country of birth.
After Fifa removed the age limit for players who want to switch national allegiance, the 23-year-old was cleared to appear for Ghana in the finals and has been named in a provisional 30-man squad.
The Portsmouth midfielder’s late tackle in the 35th minute of Chelsea’s Cup final victory at Wembley led to Ballack limping off.
An early X-ray at the stadium showed no broken bones but a further scan in Germany on Monday highlighted the full extent of the problem.
The German Football Federation said Ballack’s right ankle will be placed in a cast and he will have to wear a special shoe for two weeks after the cast is removed.
A Chelsea statement confirmed: “The German national team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, estimates the earliest possible return to training for the player is in eight weeks.”
Ballack, who joined Chelsea in 2006 after four years with Bayern Munich, sustained a tear of one ankle ligament and a partial tear of another.
“There’s naturally a lot of disappointment,” he said. “But that’s football. That happens. Life goes on.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew said: “We were all naturally shocked this morning when we got the news. I talked to Michael. He’s deeply disappointed. He put all his energy and power into playing in this World Cup.
“He’s near his 100th cap. That would have been a match in Frankfurt against Bosnia.
“That’s an immense disappointment for him to not be able to play in this World Cup.” (BBC Sport)
Conspiracy theorists amongst us will tell you that the late challenge from Kevin Prince Boateng was a deliberate attempt to rule Ballack out of the World Cup ahead of Ghana’s tussle with Germany in Group D. We prefer to think it was just a silly challenge from a player who had one hell of a horrible FA Cup Final.
This will be a big blow to Joachim Low’s World Cup hopes and coming so near to the tournament the Germany boss will have to re-think his gameplan.
One thing is for sure, if Boateng comes up against both his brother and the rest of the German side on June 23rd. If your a betting man why not bet on that one having a fair few yellow cards and a potential injury to the former Tottenham man.