Ballack happy to take on England

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The Independent Football

Michael Ballack insists Germany will have no fear should they meet England in the second round of the World Cup. A meeting between the old foes is a distinct possibility with the top team of Group B - currently England - playing the runners-up in Group A - currently Germany - in the next round.

The final outcome depends on tomorrow's matches between Germany and Ecuador, and England and Sweden.

If the hosts do come up against Sven Goran Eriksson's men, Ballack, who will play his club football for Chelsea next season, is adamant that Germany will enter the contest in confident mood.

"We are certainly not afraid of them [England] and I don't think they are afraid of us either," Ballack said. "But you can build respect through good performances and that is what we have done thus far. We want to do the same in the game against Ecuador and not think about England, Sweden or Trinidad & Tobago right now.

"For us it is important to have a good game against Ecuador and then they will automatically have some respect for us.

"A win would further boost our confidence. If we can add to our good performances we will have much more confidence for a potential meeting with England."

Although England are favourites to top their group, Ballack is still wary of the threat posed by Sweden.

The 29-year-old added: "The favourites are England or Sweden and we expect those two teams to advance.

"I personally think they are on the same level right now. They both have great individuals who can make the difference in a match." Germany's passage through the draw certainly seems more difficult than in 2002 when they reached the final by seeing off Paraguay, the United States and tournament co-hosts South Korea before going down to Brazil.

This time it could be England followed by Argentina in the last eight.

"Sometimes the road is a more difficult one and from today it can get very tough," the Germany captain admitted. "But we are well prepared. We have a team which is together and hungry.

"If we remain in the right frame of mind, then we can keep up with the likes of England or Argentina. We are looking forward to those duels. But first we have to build further confidence against Ecuador." The Germany assistant coach, Joachim Low, confirmed Ballack will definitely play tomorrow - even though he will be suspended for the second-round match if he picks up a booking.

"After missing out on the opener, it is now important for him to find his rhythm," Low stated. "But we will speak to him to make sure he does not commit any unnecessary fouls."

Ballack was forced to miss the 2002 World Cup final after picking up a yellow card in the semi-finals only minutes before scoring the late winner that sent Germany through.