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May 22, 2014

Ballack: Loew must win World Cup

Already, Joachim Loew has a host of issues to sort if Germany is to legitimately challenge for this summer's World Cup.
Joachim Loew's Germany side are facing high expectations in Brazil from back home.

Joachim Loew has to win the World Cup to keep his job, the former Germany captain Michael Ballack has told Express.

Honigstein: Injuries, team diaspora threaten Germany
World Cup Daily

Former Chelsea midfielder Ballack missed the 2010 World Cup after an ankle injury suffered in the FA Cup final put an end to his hopes of finishing his international career on a high.

Without Ballack, a young German XI won the hearts of many, but were stopped in the semifinal against eventual winners Spain.

Four years on, the 37-year-old will work as an ESPN expert in Brazil to follow Loew's side amongst others, and Ballack believes it could be the head coach's last tournament despite only recently prolonging his contract until 2016.

"Loew will be measured by the World Cup trophy," Ballack said. "The expectations in Germany are sky-high. And that's understandable. Because the team has the quality to win the World Cup."

Loew is confident he will see out his contract even in the event of an early exit in Brazil, but Ballack says that the German Football Association (DFB) only struck the deal to take pressure off the coach.

"The contract was also prolonged to avoid annoying questions and unrest during the World Cup," Ballack said. "It was a strategic decision by the DFB. But I think that Loew will not continue after an early exit. The pressure on him would be too high."

Germany made it to the World Cup final in 2002, and exited at the semifinal stage in 2006 and 2010. Die Mannschaft won their last major title in 1996, and their last of three World Cups in 1990.

Loew is the fourth coach after Berti Vogts hoping to bring back a title to Germany -- and should he achieve that, Ballack thinks he will step down: "You can't do better than winning the World Cup."

In a recent interview, the Berlin-born Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng told ESPN FC that the Germany team lacked leaders. Real Madrid's Sami Khedira could be that figure, but the midfielder has only just returned to the football pitch following an ACL tear in November.

His first real test could be the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, and Ballack has faith in Khedira, stating: "Sami is guy with a lot of charisma, he has got a good body language, which signals the opponent: You can't beat us today."

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has been told to work on his body language by Loew, and Ballack also believes that the most expensive German player of all time needs to step up and show confidence, even in training.

"Mesut has the quality to play in every team in the world," Ballack added. "But some experts don't even have him in the starting formation in Brazil.

"He can't just swallow that. He has to signal: There is no way past me. He needs to show Jogi [Loew] in training that he is hungry, that he wants to play, that he wants to win the title!"

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