Germany captain Michael Ballack was rated almost certain to start Sunday's Euro 2008 final against Spain despite straining his right calf in training, German media reported from Vienna as the countdown to the match reached fever pitch.
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 the final at the Ernst Happel Stadium, Ballack stayed behind at the team hotel for treatment.
A German football Federation statement said Saturday night 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”.
But the usually well-informed German tabloid Bild headlined its internet edition mid-afternoon with the words “yes – Ballack to play – the injured skipper will definitely start. What a relief for German fans.”