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Germany

Ballack Recovery Cheers Germany before Crucial Match

Germany’s hopes of automatic qualification for the 2004 European Championships in Portugal got a boost on Friday when assistant coach Michael Skibbe said that Michael Ballack, the Bayern Munich playmaker, was making a satisfactory recovery from an ankle injury and should be able to start the match against Iceland in Hamburg on Saturday. The World Cup finalists are just one point away from reaching the soccer finals next summer and top Group Five, two points ahead of second-placed Iceland, and need just a draw to book their place among Europe’s elite. The Germans still have problems, however, with coach Rudi Völler missing 10 players through injuries when he named his squad for the crucial match last week.