Michael Ballack warns against high expectations

Injured Germany captain Michael Ballack is warning home fans

against high World Cup expectations.

Ballack said group rivals Australia, Serbia and Ghana are all

“athletic, robust” teams.

“People should know that we could lose against anyone in the

group stage,” Ballack told Stern weekly in an interview released

Wednesday. “Our team will have to play at its limit to beat the

big nations in the knockout stage. That was so before my injury and

remains so now.”

Ballack said Germany, a three-time world champion, could go far

in the tournament despite his absence. Ballack will miss the

tournament because of an ankle injury.

“Our team has a good mentality. It won’t back down. It will go

to its limit,” Ballack said. “(Coach) Joachim Loew will draw the

maximum from the team, I am sure. In the last two tournaments we

were second and third, why can’t we do the same now?”