Chelsea’s Ballack hopes for ‘year of trophies’

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is planning for success on two levels in 2008, telling Germany’s he is hopeful of the UEFA Champions League trophy with Chelsea and a German triumph at the European Championships.

It’s been a tough year for 31-year-old Ballack, who has battled injuries and undergone two separate surgeries while barely playing for the Blues at all. Now healthy, the German ace said he can see “ample light at the end of the tunnel” and is confident of getting himself into peak condition by the time next summer’s tournament in Switzerland and Austria rolls around.

Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Ballack still faces substantial obstacles to even make Germany’s team, though the article quotes national coach Joachim Löw as agreeing that six months is enough time to get into game shape.

According to Ballack, the key here is Spielpraxis – first-team experience. He admitted Avram Grant’s move to a 4-3-3 formation has made competition for midfield spots even more formidable but said he was “certain” to establish himself nonetheless.

Chelsea fans will no doubt be pleased to hear that Ballack views his time with the club as a staging ground for the Euro tourney. Should Grant grant him his wish and put him in the starting 11? Or relegate him to the bench?

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