Sport-locker.net interview with Michael Ballack

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As you may have read already, Sport-locker.net attended the amazing adidas lab event yesterday, where we also got to catch a quick word with former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack ahead of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Here is what the German enforcer had to say…

Who do you think are the most important players for Bayern Munich?

Bayern have some fantastic players and made some very good signings last summer too. Franck Ribery is still amazing and looks in really good shape. If he has the ball he can change the game as he has shown over and over this season. Also Bastian Schweinsteiger has developed over the last ten years. Losing the final last year was very disappointing for him but to see him come back this season has been fantastic.

Are you surprised to see two German teams in the Champions League Final?

Yes because I don’t think it has happened before. Also the last German victory was in 2001 when Bayern beat Valencia. But Bayern have got to the final three times now in four years and they deserve to win, especially after their special win over Barcelona in the semi-final by seven goals to zero. Dortmund are also fantastic to watch. Two very different styles of play and I am happy to see both of them in the final.

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Do you think German teams are doing so well because of the great young players in the Bundesliga?

It is important to build strength from the country in the team. At Chelsea we had Frank Lampard and John Terry. Strong English players in an English team and German teams must have strong German players but you must also have the top international stars like Ribery, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski. German players like Schweinsteiger and Lahm have been very important players for Bayern for many years brought up from the academy as the basis of the team. Dortmund have young German players too like Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan.

Which young German player excites you the most?

It is difficult to say, the strength of German football has changed to more offensive and attacking players rather than defensive. It is good to watch for the fans to watch creative players like Reus and Mario Gotze but you must have success and good defensive players like Mats Hummels too.

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There are rumours circulating that Andre Schurrle is on the verge of signing for Chelsea. Do you think he will do well in the Premier League?

Hopefully because he is a good guy. He is still young and can still improve and needs support to develop his mental strength. It is really important to have good people and a good environment around him. As a footballer he has all the skills to be a top player.

Why are Germans so good at penalties?

Well last year Bayern lost to Chelsea! History shows we are good but it is difficult to explain. Maybe it is mental strength. Maybe it is down to history knowing that you have won before helps. Taking a penalty in a final is a special situation but maybe it is coincidence too. Too much hype!

Do you think Jose Mourinho will be a success if he goes back to Chelsea?

It is his decision and he knows what he is doing.  The fans and English football love him. He is special and he brings something extra off the pitch too. His success is fantastic and I really enjoyed playing for him.

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Do you think he has got a point to prove after Real Madrid?

If you work at such a high level and have such success as a coach it is disappointing perhaps he did not get to the Champions League final with Madrid but he has nothing to prove. The expectations from the media are high but I think he can handle it.

What qualities do you think Carlo Ancelotti can bring to Real Madrid if he does end up there?

He is also a very smart coach; I really enjoyed working with him when we won the league and the cup. I have worked with so many different characters and enjoyed working with most of them. We had success with both Mourinho and Ancelotti.

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What is it like going into a Champions League final as an underdog as you did with Bayer Leverkusen?

For most of the Dortmund players it will be their first Champions League final so will be a very special occasion, they will feel it. It is just one moment, 90 minutes. Bayern Munich have the advantage because they will have learned from the defeat last year.

Michael Ballack was speaking at the adidas lab, showcasing the latest innovations at the cutting edge of football. For more information visit www.adidas.com/football or join the conversation @adidasfootball #allforthis

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Who do you think will win the Champions League final – Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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