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Ballack to Apologize for Criticism of Loew

Germany captain Michael Ballack plans to apologize to coach Joachim Loew for his recent criticism of the manager in a newspaper interview but Loew said on Sunday that the spat was not yet over.

Joachim Loew and Michael Ballack

Loew, left, and Ballack need to clear the air

"I will sit down with Joachim Loew, as soon as my injury permits, and apologize for my behavior to him," Ballack was quoted as saying in a statement released by the German Soccer Association (DFB) on Sunday.

Ballack said "the success of the team" was the only thing on his mind when he criticized Loew this week in a newspaper interview.

But Loew signaled that the affair, which has made sports headlines in Germany, was far from over.

"I have taken notice of Michael Ballack's statement. But a personal meeting is more important. I will make my final assessment after that," Loew said on the Web site of the German soccer federation DFB.

Row over treatment of senior players

Loew said he talked with Ballack on the phone Saturday and said the face-to-face meeting will take place in Germany in the near future.

DFB president Theo Zwanziger said that Loew alone would decide how to end the issue. There is speculation that Loew could axe Ballack as captain.

Torsten Frings

Frings is miffed for being benched by Loew

Ballack said on Saturday that his recent remarks, made in an interview with daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung paper, were "a mistake."

The Chelsea midfielder had criticized Loew for not fielding Torsten Frings in two recent World Cup qualifiers.

Werder Bremen's Frings also attacked Loew over the issue but Loew insisted that other players needed to be fielded as well to have a strong team for the 2010 World Cup. Loew also said that no one was guaranteed a place in the starting 11.

Frings, who was one of the German stars in 2006 when they finished third at the World Cup, has said that he is not disappointed with having been dropped or not been given enough playing time.

"I am upset about the way in which this was handled, the way in which I was treated. That should not happen," Frings told reporters this week.

The row over the treatment of senior players erupted after Loew left Kevin Kuranyi on the bench for Germany's World Cup qualifier against Russia this month.

Kuranyi walked out on the team while the match was still going on, bringing his international career to an end.

Ballack, who is currently sidelined with a foot injury, said he wanted to support his long-time midfield partner Frings and to speak about issues "which are important for me as captain." He said he had not intended to criticize Loew's leadership.

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