Form, injuries worry Germans

Tenero, June 18:

Cristiano Ronaldo has come out ahead this year in contests against Michael Ballack, and everything points to that continuing after Thursday’s Euro 2008 quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany.

Germany is hurting and sputtering, Portugal is healthy and well rested. No one should doubt Germany’s motivation and commitment, so it might be wise not to write off the three-time champions. Ronaldo’s Manchester United edged Ballack’s Chelsea for the Premier League title, then beat the Blues in Champions League final. And Thursday’s match is likely to be decided by the two biggest stars on the field.

German goalie Jens Lehmann, who also has several years of Premier League experience, thinks there is a way to stop Ronaldo and has already spoken to right back Arne Friedrich.

Germany’s leading scorer with three goals, Lukas Podolski, has a left calf injury and is questionable. Central midfielder Torsten Frings has a fractured rib and also could miss the game. Germany strikers Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose are in a slump and Gomez could find himself on the bench.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will return to the team after suspension. With a quarter-final berth already secured, coach Scolari rested Ronaldo, Deco and six other players in the team’s 2-0 loss to Switzerland on Sunday. The teams have met twice at the European Championship. They drew 0-0 in the first round in 1984, and Portugal routed Germany 3-0 in the group stage in 2000.