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Ballack setting sights on Portugal

Published: Tuesday 17 June 2008, 12.59CET
Captain Michael Ballack said Portugal are favourites in their quarter-final in Basel after he confirmed Germany's progress with a second-half winner against Austria.
by Sam Adams
from Ernst-Happel-Stadion
Ballack setting sights on Portugal
Michael Ballack made the difference for Germany ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 17 June 2008, 12.59CET

Ballack setting sights on Portugal

Captain Michael Ballack said Portugal are favourites in their quarter-final in Basel after he confirmed Germany's progress with a second-half winner against Austria.

Germany captain Michael Ballack said Portugal are favourites in their quarter-final in Basel after he confirmed his country's progress with a second-half free-kick against Austria in Vienna.

Underdogs
The resulting 1-0 victory in the third round of matches left Germany second in Group B behind Croatia, but above the co-hosts who needed to beat their neighbours to qualify. Carlsberg Man of the Match Ballack was relieved to have made the knockout stage but thinks his side are underdogs in their last-eight tie. "I think Portugal are now the favourites and we've slipped into a different role but who knows – maybe that will favour our game," the midfielder said. "I know several Portugal players, not only from [Chelsea FC] but also from other occasions when we've met. They are very good individually – they play well offensively and don't focus too much on defence. They're a great team, not least because of Ronaldo who's had a great season in England."

Satisfied
The 31-year-old admitted his team have not been at their best in the last two matches but he is now looking forward to the next challenge. "Obviously we're happy to have made it to the quarter-finals, particularly after the difficult match against Croatia," the Chelsea man added. "We had everything to lose when we were certainly favourites to win. You could tell that the team were not as agile because they had tensed up. I'm looking forward to playing Portugal again – we met them in the third-place play-off at the [2006 FIFA] World Cup and I'm looking forward to squaring off against them again. We didn't play as well as we wanted but I'm convinced this victory will give us the push to play even better against Portugal."

Individual difference
Ballack was selected as Carlsberg Man of the Match by the UEFA Technical Team – after they considered the euro2008.com vote – consisting of Andy Roxburgh and Jozef Vengloš. "The game was even, the Austrian team were working hard and pushing, but the winning touch was in the boot of Ballack – his excellent free-kick was the difference," former Czechoslovakia coach Vengloš said. The Germany skipper, who has now scored 37 goals in 84 internationals, praised the team effort, however: "We couldn't expect things to be easy. There was a great atmosphere and it was important that we really fought today. Of course, at the start we should have taken our chances and the game would have been calmer, but we had to fight right until the end."

Last updated: 17/06/08 13.06CET

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