German FA backs Ballack
Under-fire captain Michael Ballack has been urged to continue to lead by example for Germany. The Chelsea midfielder had an on-field spat with striker Lukas Podolski during last week's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Wales. Ballack had questioned Podolski's effort and the Bayern Munich star reacted angrily, with his hand striking Ballack in the face. Podolski was reprimanded for the incident, which the German media have labelled "the slap", and has since apologised. Ballack had scored Germany's opening goal with a long-range strike, but the win was overshadowed by his clash with Podolski, which triggered memories of Ballack's public spat with coach Joachim Loew last year that led to him being briefly dropped. German FA chief Theo Zwanziger believes Ballack was within his rights to criticise Podolski and insists the skipper's credibility has not been weakened by Podolski's reaction. "A captain must not only talk," Zwanziger told Sport Bild magazine. "Michael Ballack must be present as a player and a runner, just like he did against Wales. "If he continues playing at that level then he will not be doubted and will not lose any of his authority." Ballack has scored against both Liechtenstein and Wales since being dropped for the friendly defeats at home to England and Norway.
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