Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Stand-in skipper Lahm brushes off captaincy snub

Stand-in Germany captain Philipp Lahm on Thursday denied he had any problems with coach Joachim Loew’s decision to retain Michael Ballack as permanent skipper for the Euro 2012 campaign.

Ballack, 34 later this month, is out of Friday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels as he recovers from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the World Cup, but will captain Germany again when he returns.

In his absence, Lahm will take over where he left off in South Africa by captaining the side against the Belgians, but Loew has said Lahm will lose the skipper’s armband once Ballack returns from injury.

“You have to accept such decisions,” said Lahm, who led Germany to third at the World Cup, at the German team’s hotel on the outskirts of Brussels.

“Now it is up to me to lead the team again in the next two games as captain.

“I am looking forward to it and I have the confidence of the players around me and I am looking forward to leading them.”

Loew announced the decision on Wednesday to stick with Ballack as his captain, but until he recovers from injury, Lahm will captain the side with Bastian Schweinsteiger as his deputy.

The decision has not been greeted with universal praise in Germany with many football fans happy with Lahm’s style of captaincy, while Ballack has clashed with both national team-mates and coaches on and off the pitch in the past.

Ballack is expected to return for October’s qualifiers against Turkey and Kazakhstan when he could win his 100th cap for Germany having already won 98.

Having returned to Leverkusen and the Bundesliga this season after a four-year spell in the Premier League with Chelsea, Ballack’s side were hammered 6-3 last Sunday by Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Ballack was substituted in the second-half and booed off the pitch by Leverkusen fans.

He was missing from training with Leverkusen on Thursday with a stomach infection.

Germany will face Azerbaijan in their second Euro 2012 qualifier in Cologne next Tuesday.


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