Ballack The Germany's Hero

Germany captain Michael Ballack said Portugal are favourites in their quarter-final in Basel after he confirmed his country's progress with a second-half free-kick against Austria in Vienna.

The resulting 1-0 victory in the third round of matches left Germany second in Group B behind Croatia, but above the co-hosts who needed to beat their neighbours to qualify. Carlsberg Man of the Match Ballack was relieved to have made the knockout stage but thinks his side are underdogs in their last-eight tie. "I think Portugal are now the favourites and we've slipped into a different role but who knows – maybe that will favour our game," the midfielder said. "I know several Portugal players, not only from [Chelsea FC] but also from other occasions when we've met. They are very good individually – they play well offensively and don't focus too much on defence. They're a great team, not least because of Ronaldo who's had a great season in England."

The 31-year-old admitted his team have not been at their best in the last two matches but he is now looking forward to the next challenge. "Obviously we're happy to have made it to the quarter-finals, particularly after the difficult match against Croatia," the Chelsea man added. "We had everything to lose when we were certainly favourites to win. You could tell that the team were not as agile because they had tensed up. I'm looking forward to playing Portugal again – we met them in the third-place play-off at the [2006 FIFA] World Cup and I'm looking forward to squaring off against them again. We didn't play as well as we wanted but I'm convinced this victory will give us the push to play even better against Portugal."


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