Ballack doubtful for today's final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Germany captain Michael Ballack is doubtful for today s Euro 2008 final against Spain because of an injury to his right calf.

Updated: July 02, 2008 17:43 IST
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Germany on Saturday rated captain Michael Ballack as doubtful for Sunday's Euro 2008 final against Spain after revealing he had strained his right calf in training.

The 31-year-old Chelsea midfielder damaged his calf in Germany's final training session on Friday at their Euro 2008 base in Tenero, Switzerland, and has been receiving treatment for the injury.

Although the team flew to Vienna on Saturday afternoon for Sunday's final at the Ernst Happel Stadium, Ballack stayed behind at the team hotel for treatment and a decision on whether he plays will be taken in the count-down to kick-off.

A German football Federation statement said that Ballack's "participation in the final is still to be decided. The decision on whether to play him will be taken just before kickoff."

At a press conference Saturday evening coach Joachim Loew said he had "not given up all hope of being able to count on Ballack".

Loew said: "We are going to wait and see how the injury develops overnight but we are also starting to reflect seriously about what would happen were he not to play."

He added that Ballack had been "optimistic" when they spoke earlier in the day.

Were Ballack, 38 goals for his country in 86 games, not to make it Loew would likely replace him with Tim Borowski, who has scored just twice in 33 appearances and who has made only brief showings at Euro 2008 against Austria and Portugal.

But he added that Bastian Schweinsteiger could also play in the Ballack role.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff had earlier told reporters that "we'll do all we can to ensure Ballack can play."

Ballack missed the World Cup final loss to Brazil in 2002 through suspension.

He is doubly keen to make Sunday's trophy match after a series of near misses, not least this season with the Champions League final loss to Manchester United, who also beat Chelsea to the Premiership title.

Six years ago he was in the Bayer Leverkusen side which finished runners-up in the German league, the Champions League and the German Cup.

The German media suggested that the German challenge would be hit hard were he to have to sit out Sunday's action.

"Germany is trembling. Michael Ballack has a calf injury and his participation in the Euro final against Spain is under threat," reported Bild daily's internet edition, adding Ballack had been complaining of pain since early Friday.

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