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Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 07:35 UK

Ballack piles pressure on Man Utd

Michael Ballack
Ballack scored twice on Saturday to open up the title race

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack believes title rivals Manchester United could fold after the Blues' 2-1 win on Saturday put the teams level on points.

Ballack recalled being pipped to the title by Bayern Munich on the last day of the 2000 season when his side Bayer Leverkusen had been top of the league.

And he believes United may suffer a similar fate, and miss out to Chelsea.

"When United went top they were thinking they had won the title, but now they are under pressure," he said.

"Last week they had a five-point lead and now we have closed the gap. They still have everything in their hands but the pressure is on them.

"It looked like they were champions, but now it's getting smaller and tighter.

This is where we want to be. We like this situation

Michael Ballack

"In 2000 I was in a similar situation at Leverkusen, but we were the ones leading and Bayern Munich caught us.

"In the last game we were three points in front, but lost the game and the title. It can happen up to the last minute."

However, Chelsea must win their games - away to Newcastle and at home to Bolton on the final day - and hope United fail to record two wins, as the Blues have a vastly inferior goal difference.

Ballack, though, believes Chelsea are in with an excellent chance of securing silverware after what he described as their "best performance" at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

"We are possibly just four games away from two big prizes and we have put ourselves in this situation," added the German international.

"This is where we want to be. We like this situation. I think we look fresh and better than all other teams, even in the Champions League now."

Chelsea are slight favourites to get past Liverpool in their Champions League semi-final, second leg on Wednesday after earning a 1-1 draw at Anfield last week.

And the Blues could be boosted by the return of midfielder Frank Lampard ,who missed the win over United at the weekend as he was on compassionate leave after the death of his mother Pat last Thursday.

Lampard returned to training on Sunday and may now be available.

Meanwhile, the Football Association will request CCTV footage of a scuffle involving United players and Chelsea staff after the match on Saturday.

Patrice Evra, Gary Neville, Ji-Sung Park and Paul Scholes were warming down on the pitch when they were asked to move by groundstaff, sparking a row.

see also
Word on the 'Battle of the Bridge'
28 Apr 08 |  Premier League
Chelsea & Man Utd in fight probe
28 Apr 08 |  Man Utd
Man Utd could crack, says Grant
26 Apr 08 |  Chelsea
Queiroz questions referee Wiley
26 Apr 08 |  Man Utd
BBC pundits on Chelsea v Man Utd
26 Apr 08 |  Premier League
Debate: Title up for grabs
26 Apr 08 |  Football
Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
26 Apr 08 |  Premier League

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