German dynamism means Ballack forgotten

PRETORIA - Youthful Germany are so light on their feet and attack with such speed that the absence of injured Michael Ballack is not being felt, coach Joachim Low said a day after their pulsating 4-0 thrashing of Australia.

The Germans put on the best display of the World Cup so far in their Group D opener and some fans will now be wondering whether captain Ballack's injury which ruled him out of the tournament has been a blessing in disguise.

Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller and Cacau scored the goals but the midfield dynamism offered by Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil was also key to the thumping win.

"With Ballack missing, I had to look for a solution. I was lucky that more and more players stepped up to the mark," Low told a news conference on Monday having flown back to their base from Durban in the small hours.

"With Sami Khedira, you can draw a parallel between him and a young Ballack. It seems up to now we have dealt with his absence fairly well."

'IMPORTANT PLAYER'

Ballack, 33, has been the lynchpin on the German side for the best part of a decade but he does not have the ability to move the ball as quickly as his younger team mates, who ran rings round a hapless Australian defence.

"Michael Ballack was an important player who has immense experience," Low added, indicating that the future of the German team lies with the fast counter-attacking and neat one-twos of his vibrant side.

"Space distribution is the key to good football. It's no use if players are clustered together.

"I would like to see offensive football, combination play and a certain culture. Combination play is not something you are born with, it has to be practised on the training pitch."

Ozil, who chose to play for Germany rather than Turkey in an already multi-cultural squad, was able to move further forward against the Australians without having Ballack there.

"He never slows the game down, he speeds it up and he adds fluidity to our game, slicing open the opponent's defence," Low said of Ozil.

"My work will be for him to preserve that level in the next few days and weeks."

Germany next face Serbia, beaten 1-0 by Ghana on Sunday, on Friday in Port Elizabeth when Low will be expected to keep the same team given their rampaging form.

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