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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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By ESPN Staff

Löw and Ballack hold clear-the-air meeting

Germany coach Joachim Löw met with national team captain Michael Ballack on Thursday in a bid to resolve their dispute.

A statement from the German FA (DFB) confirmed the pair met in Frankfurt after Ballack was given permission by his club Chelsea to fly to Germany.

The DFB added they would release a further statement on Friday giving details of the meeting, and its outcome will be keenly awaited.

Löw called Ballack for one-to-one talks following comments made by the 32-year-old midfielder in a recent newspaper interview.

Ballack issued an apology to Löw last Saturday in which he admitted criticising the coach's treatment of Torsten Frings and Kevin Kuranyi had been a mistake.

The meeting took place amid unconfirmed reports that Ballack is ready to step down from the captaincy.

Earlier on Thursday, Germany's general manager Oliver Bierhoff threw his support behind Löw.

Bierhoff, who is no stranger to differences of opinion with Ballack, applauded the way Löw has handled the matter.

''You cannot claim that Joachim Löw lacks respect for people,'' he told Kicker magazine.

''The coach has a responsibility and he has to make the decisions. He has got to put his head on the line and the players have got to accept that.''

Bierhoff clashed with Ballack after the Euro 2008 final and their feud was only ended prior to the recent World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Wales.

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