By NBF News
Listen to article

Germany's injured captain Michael Ballack has warned his country's football fans against having high expectations for the World Cup finals in South Africa.

'After the draw in Cape Town, I said then: people should know that we can lose in the preliminary rounds to any of the other sides,' Ballack told German magazine Stern.

'Australia, Serbia and Ghana are all athletic, tough teams.'

Damaged ankle ligaments mean Ballack has been ruled out of next month's World Cup, which starts on June 11, and he says his side will need to fulfill their potential to make the last four.

'The team will need to play to their limits to beat some of the great teams in the knock-out round,' said the Chelsea midfielder.

'That is just the same as it was before I had to pull out.'

Since Spain in 1982, Germany have never failed to reach at least the last eight of a World Cup finals and Ballack says Joachim Loew's side will have that goal in mind when they open their campaign against Australia on June 13.

'It is terrible for a team if they can only enjoy a tournament from the semi-final stage onwards as everything else would mean a failure,' said Ballack.

'It drives you on, it pushes you, but it is also a merciless game.'

Despite his ankle injury, Ballack has already visited the national team at last week's training camp in Sicily, despite his injury.