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Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Sunday, 18 May 2008 15:36 UK

Final is Ballack's golden chance

Michael Ballack
Ballack scored twice in Chelsea's league win over United last month

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack believes Wednesday night's Champions League final is a "golden opportunity" to make up for his past failures.

The Germany captain was a losing European Cup finalist in 2002 when Real Madrid beat his Bayern Leverkusen team.

"You don't go into these games to lose. I know what that feels like and I will give everything to win," he said ahead of the final against Manchester United.

"We are a strong team and we've shown that constantly during the season."

The memory of that disappointing 2001-02 season still rankles with the 31-year-old, who is desperate to prevent history repeating itself.

As well as losing in the Champions League final, Leverkusen conceded the Bundesliga title to Bayern Munich and were beaten in the German Cup final.

The final of the Champions League is one game so it is all in our hands

Michael Ballack
A month later, the midfielder missed the World Cup final, which Germany lost to Brazil, because of suspension.

Chelsea have already lost one final this season, the League Cup against Tottenham, while they were pipped to the Premier League title by United on the final day of the campaign.

"I was at Leverkusen and we were five points ahead in the league with three games to play and had reached the Champions League final," recalled the former Bayern Munich captain.

"But we managed to still come second in the Bundesliga and then we lost the Champions League to Real Madrid.

"We lost the German Cup that year, too, and then Germany lost in the World Cup final against Brazil, so this is a golden opportunity to put it right."

Ballack has developed into an instrumental player for manager Avram Grant after a lengthy period on the sidelines earlier in the season with an ankle injury.

He scored both goals in Chelsea's 2-1 league win over United last month and the player himself says he feels revitalised.

"I am very happy with the way things have gone this season, especially after my difficult injury," Ballack said.

"When I returned to fitness I got back in the team very quickly because we had some injuries in the side. That gave me my opportunity to make an impact straight away.

"But from my experience of previous years, I always tend to feel good at the end of a season.

606: DEBATE

"Even last season I was still feeling good and scoring some important goals at the end but then came the injury."

He added: "I said before the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool that I think we still look good and fresh as a team. We coped with playing 120 minutes in that game and scored two goals in extra-time.

"So I think it shows that we have a very good level of physical strength in this team. The final of the Champions League is one game so it is all in our hands."


see also
Blues trio set to play in final
17 May 08 |  Chelsea
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (4-3)
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
26 Apr 08 |  Premier League
Chelsea 1-1 Bolton
11 May 08 |  Premier League
How the title was won
11 May 08 |  Premier League
Title race photos
11 May 08 |  Football


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