The German midfielder Michael Ballack claims he has a score to settle with the Scotland manager, Berti Vogts, when the sides meet in their Euro 2004 qualifier at Hampden Park on Saturday.
Ballack and Vogts were frequently at loggerheads when the latter coached Bayer Leverkusen from November of 2000 to May of the following year. "I don't want to hang out any dirty laundry, but I don't have to keep secret that some Leverkusen players had a problem with him," Ballack said. "Some players want to show him something - me too."
Vogts, a former Germany coach, acknowledged he regrets his strained relationships with Ballack. He once publicly accused the midfielder of being an underachiever but yesterday Scotland's coach was full of praise for his former player.
"I watched the match between Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern at the weekend and the match was over after about eight minutes after two goals from Ballack," Vogts said. "At the moment he's the best attacking midfielder in Europe. He's certainly the key player on Rudi Völler's team, but we're not playing against Ballack, but against Germany."
Völler was also in no doubt as to Ballack's worth to to his team. "What Zinedane Zidane is for France, Ballack is for us," he said. "He's developed into a team leader."
But the 26-year-old playmaker admits he has not forgotten Vogts' unhappy time in charge of Leverkusen. "Working together with him was difficult from the start," Ballack said. "Berti Vogts had great knowledge of the game, but his relations with the players weren't easy - he had his problems there."
Vogts says he needs more resources if he is to help develop quality players like Ballack. "Germany were in the final of the World Cup last year but I know the situation. The Germans pay £3m for the young players and I have to fight for £400,000 for my own programme for the youths. There is a lot of quality in the German side but, on Saturday, it is 11 against 11."
Unfortunately for Vogts, one player who may not be part of that equation is the West Ham midfielder Don Hutchison, who has been sent to London to have an X-ray on an ankle injury.
Motherwell's James McFadden also failed to train with the rest of the Scotland squad yesterday. He was called into the squad to face Germany following an impressive display in last week's friendly against New Zealand, but Vogts revealed that the 20-year-old was suffering from tiredness and a small injury to his foot. Reserve goalkeeper Paul Gallacher is also carrying a small injury.
Vogts admits the Scotland fans deserve to see a far better display from his players than the performances they have become used to recently, but he maintained that the 1-1 draw against New Zealand was a step forward.
He said: "Yes that is important to see a difference. Against New Zealand we were different and we started very, well. The only problem is that we have to score more goals. The equaliser put us down and we have to learn from that.
"We have changed a lot. A lot of young players have come in and there has been a lot of discussion about the young players and we have a good group now.
"On Saturday, at 3pm, we [will] give the Scottish people on the street something back," Vogts added. "The Germans are the favourites and we are the underdogs but we love that."
Völler has already confirmed his starting line-up to face Scotland.
GERMANY (v Scotland, Euro 2004 Qualifier, Hampden Park, Sat): Kahn (Bayern Munich); Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Woerns (Borussia Dortmund), Ramelow (Leverkusen); Frings (Borussia Dortmund), Rau (Wolfsburg), Ballack (Bayern Munich), Jeremies (Bayern Munich), Schneider (Leverkusen); Bobic (Hanover), Klose (Kaiserslautern).Reuse content