BUDAPEST (AFP) – Germany prepare for life without captain Michael Ballack when they face Hungary in Budapest on Saturday in their penultimate World Cup warm-up.
With Ballack out with an ankle injury, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm will take over the captain's armband to captain the side in South Africa, but striker Miroslav Klose will lead Germany in Budapest.
|German forward Mario Gomez takes part in a training session in Appiano May 28, 2010. AFP photo|
The Bayern quartet of Lahm, Germany's vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, goalkeeper Hans-Joerg Butt and midfielder Thomas Mueller are being rested by Joachim Loew for the Hungary game as the coach looks at different options.
Coached by former Dutch midfielder Erwin Koeman, the Hungarians are expected to give the Germans the same kind of test at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium as Group D opponents Serbia in South Africa.
With Ballack out and Klose leading the side, Loew has named Schalke 04 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer between the posts in Budapest in place of injured first-choice Rene Adler.
Bremen's Tim Wiese will be on the bench with Bayern's 35-year-old goalkeeper Butt part of the quartet kept back at the north Italian training camp to work on their fitness.
Neuer will be Germany's first-choice goalkeeper in South Africa and Loew is looking forward to assessing the form of several squad members in a game environment including Hamburg's Marcell Jansen after an ankle injury.
"We want to see some things we have been working on in training implemented in the Hungary game," said Loew.
"We will take this game very seriously.
"I also have the opportunity again to look at one or two things.
"For example, I can see how Marcell copes again, whether he is able to play to his best again and prove his match fitness."
While Germany lost both midfielders Ballack and Christian Traesch with ankle injuries in recent weeks, Hungary have a few injury concerns of their own.
"The conditions for preparation could have been better," said Koeman.
"There have been a few injuries and this match is a big challenge for us, but it is essential to play the big teams like Germany or the Netherlands to get us ready for our Euro 2012 campaign."
While Hungary have failed to qualify for the World Cup, Germany start their campaign on June 13 against Australia and fly to the Republic on June 7 after their final warm-up game against Bosnia-Herzegovina next Thursday.
But there could be problems waiting for them in South Africa as soon as they get off the plane.
Germany spokesman Harald Stenger said on Thursday there are no plans to switch their World Cup base in Pretoria even though their reserved hotel has alleged problems between the owners and the local authorities over licences.
South African media report the Velmore Grande hotel near Pretoria, where the German team will be based from June 7 onwards, does not have the permits demanded by South African authorities.
"I can only say that this is an issue between FIFA, the agency Match, through which we booked the hotel, South African authorities and the hotel itself," said Stenger.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff said the German Football Federation (DFB) was aware there are problems, but said it was confident the issue will be resolved.
"Sometimes things in South Africa are ready in the last minute. But we fully trust FIFA that we will move into our Velmore Grande base," said Bierhoff.