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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Moscow Final: Ballack to face the game of his life

Talented German midfielder Michael Ballack believes Wednesday night's Champions League final with the Chelsea jersey on is a "golden opportunity" to make up for his past failures.

Indeed, the talented player was a losing European Cup finalist in 2002 when Real Madrid beat his Bayern Leverkusen team.

"You don't go into these games to lose. I know what that feels like and I will give everything to get the victory," he said ahead of the final against Manchester United.

"We are a really strong squad and we've shown that constantly during the season."

In 2002, as well as losing in the Champions League final, Leverkusen conceded the Bundesliga title to the powerfull Bayern Munich and were beaten in the German Cup final.

And just a month later, the midfielder missed the World Cup final, which Germany lost to Brazil, because of suspension.

We also must mention that Chelsea have already lost one final this season, the League Cup against Tottenham, while they were pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester United on the final day of the campaign.

"Yes, I was at Leverkusen and we were five points ahead in the league with three games to play and had reached the Champions League final," expressed the former Bayern Munich captain.

"But we managed to still come second in the German Bundesliga and then we lost the Champions League to Real Madrid.

"We lost the German Cup final that year, too, and then Germany lost in the World Cup final against Ronaldo's Brazil, so this is a golden opportunity to put it right."

Michael Ballack has developed into an instrumental player for manager Avram Grant after a lengthy period on the sidelines earlier in the season with a painful ankle injury.

But He netted both goals in Chelsea's 2-1 league win over United last month and the player himself says he feels revitalised: "I am totally happy with the way things have gone this season, especially after my difficult injury," Ballack said.

"When I returned to fitness I got back in the team very quickly because we had some injuries in the squad. That gave me my golden opportunity to make an impact straight away.

"I already said before the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool that I think we still look good and fresh as a football team. We coped with playing 120 minutes in that game and scored two goals in extra-time.

"That's why I think it shows that we have a very good level of physical strength in this team. The final of the Champions League is one match so it is all in our hands". And this time, he will not miss it.

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