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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 5, 2007

Ballack defends his form at Stamford Bridge

BERLIN, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Germany captain Michael Ballack dismissed criticism of his form for new club Chelsea on Monday and said he was happy with his midfield partnership with Frank Lampard.

'I feel fine at Chelsea,' Ballack told reporters at Germany's training camp in Duesseldorf ahead of the friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday. 'I think I've integrated well.

'I've found my role and I'm getting enough acknowledgment, above all from coach Jose Mourinho. I talk to him a lot.'

Ballack has been singled out for criticism since he moved to the London club from Bayern Munich before the start of the season.

'There are a lot of tabloid newspapers in England and they always need something to write about,' he said. 'It doesn't bother me very much.'

In particular, Ballack rejected criticism from Germany regarding his lack of understanding with midfield colleague Lampard.

'He plays his game and I play mine,' Ballack said. 'We get on well with each other.'

Chelsea trail Manchester United by six points in the Premier League and Ballack recognised it would be difficult to win a third successive title for the club.

He also said he was convinced coach Mourinho would stay on at the club next season.

'It will be tough to catch United because they are so consistent,' Ballack said. 'It's obvious we can't afford any more gaffes.'

He added: 'Our coach has to put up with a new rumour every day but I'm sure as everyone else in the team that he is staying put.'

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