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Ballack eager for victory over Valencia
Published : 19 Oct 2011 07:05:38
Ex-Germany captain Michael Ballack is eager to see his Bayer Leverkusen beat Spanish side Valencia on Wednesday in the Champions League to keep up the pressure on Group E leaders Chelsea.
After Leverkusen were beaten 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in their opening game, Ballack scored the final goal in a 2-0 win over Genk in the last round which puts the Germans second in the table and just a point behind his ex-club Chelsea.
A win on Wednesday at the Bay Arena would keep up the pressure on the group leaders, who host Genk at Stamford Bridge the same night, and Ballack is urging Leverkusen to take their chance.
"There are many young players here with huge potential, who have been lying in wait for this, to be able to play on this stage of the Champions League, and now it's up to us, to each individual, to make the best of it," said Ballack.
With two draws from their opening games against Chelsea and Genk, Valencia will prove a stern challenge for Robin Dutt-coached Bayer and 35-year-old Ballack admits his team face a team with "much more experience" of playing in Europe.
Ballack has endured a rough return to Germany since his contract at Chelsea expired at the end of the 2009/2010 season, but has played five of his team's nine German league games so far this season.
Back-to-back injuries saw him struggle for form last season and with the German media watching his every move, Ballack is under constant pressure here and has earned special treatment from coach Dutt.
"You always have to look into a person's particular circumstances," said Dutt, who has rotated Ballack in the German league with Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes this season.
"At the moment Michael Ballack is under daily scrutiny - there are always camera crews and reporters, and we try not to provide people with stories that aren't really stories.
"So I'll talk with him in private about some things I might ordinarily address directly on the training pitch with a younger player."
Leverkusen will be without Brazil playmaker Renato Augusto after knee surgery in Brazil which will keep him out for "several weeks".
The operation has sidelined Augusto for the Valencia home game and possibly the November 1 return-leg match in Spain.
Valencia defender Hedwiges Maduro missed the match and is out for the next four months after the Dutch international underwent surgery for torn ankle ligaments.
The 26-year-old suffered the injury during a training session with the Dutch team and underwent a successful operation in Amsterdam earlier this month.