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Germany have no chance against Italy, Ballack jokes

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, July 3 (Reuters) Recent history shows Germany have no chance of beating Italy in the semi-finals of the World Cup, captain Michael Ballack joked today.

Ballack was part of the Germany team that lost 4-1 against Italy in Florence and lost by the same scoreline in the Champions League with Bayern Munich against AC Milan.

''We lost 4-1 with Germany and 4-1 with Bayern in Milan,'' Ballack said at a news conference. ''Basically, we've got no chance, have we?'' Ballack seemed amazingly relaxed on the eve of the semi-final in Dortmund and his comments raised laughs from the assembled reporters and his coach Juergen Klinsmann.

''Yeah, after those defeats it's a really great feeling to have going into the semi-final,'' he added.

FULLY FIT Speaking more seriously, Ballack said he was fully fit and eager for the match to start.

''I've had time to recharge my batteries,'' said Ballack, who needed lengthy treatment for muscle cramps during the quarter-final penalty shootout win over Argentina.

''We beat one of the big teams to reach the semi-finals and playing in Dortmund only adds to the faith that we will win.'' Germany have never lost an international match in Dortmund, winning 13 and drawing the other one of their 14 games there.

The winners of tomorrow's game will go on to face either Portugal or France in the final in Berlin on July 9. The losing semi-finalists will contest the third-place match in Stuttgart a day earlier.

Reuters PDS RN1816

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