Germany captain Michael Ballack called for "the right attitude and a great deal of passion" from his side ahead of their make-or-break tie with neighbours Austria.
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Michael Ballack is fully aware his nation's hopes at UEFA EURO 2008™ are now riding on just 90 minutes as Germany prepare for an emotional derby clash with co-hosts Austria in their final Group B game on Monday.
'Win every game'
Germany's defeat by Croatia and Austria's last-gasp penalty to snatch a draw against Poland last Thursday mean both sides can still join the Croats in the last eight with victory in Vienna. "There is no second round in the [UEFA] European Championship, but this match is like one," said Ballack. "We now need to win every game. The right attitude and a great deal of passion are the basis for that."
Passion will not be in short supply in the Austrian capital, though the tide of popular feeling will mostly be against Ballack's side at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion. The Chelsea FC midfielder acknowledged that the atmosphere and the Germans' billing as favourites makes the encounter perilous. "The real danger of this kind of game is that a defeat means you can lose everything," said the former FC Bayern München man. "We're expecting to face a team who have nothing to lose and who will be determined to throw everything they have at us in their own stadium. We would have liked, of course, to have qualified for the quarter-finals before this game, but now we will have to give it our all."
The reason Germany's future still hangs in the balance is their 2-1 loss to Croatia in Klagenfurt in their second group match. That reverse provoked fierce criticism, none more so than from within the squad itself as the players met – without coach Joachim Löw present – to dissect the defeat. "The players got together after the Croatia match to discuss the mistakes which had been made. We were very self-critical, but the result was a very positive one," revealed the 31-year-old. "We have a lot of room for improvement and want to show what we can do in Vienna tomorrow. I'm not at all worried about this match."
While Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm, and Heiko Westermann are all expected to shake off minor knocks, Marcell Jansen's shoulder injury will prevent him from playing. Ballack, though, will again lead the team, and he shrugged off criticism of his own performances in the tournament. "I'm not at all inhibited, the amount of pressure is totally normal for me and criticism after such a defeat is a part of that," he said. "I'm looking forward to the game."