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Hosts Germany enjoy goal feast

May 28, 2006 14:04 IST
Germany shrugged off the absence of Michael Ballack to crush Luxembourg 7-0 on Saturday as their World Cup preparations moved up a gear.

On a busy day of international friendlies featuring 11 of the 32 nations competing in next month's finals, the hosts got in some much-needed shooting practise against a side ranked 152nd in the FIFA rankings.

Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Oliver Neuville all grabbed a couple of goals to raise the feel-good factor in Juergen Klinsmann's squad.

Germany captain Ballack missed the friendly in Freiburg, still nursing a strained ankle which he sustained in Thursday's workout against Servette Geneva's under-18s.

"It did us some good," said Klinsmann. "It was a small but important test and we got going straight away."

Argentina, who are among the favourites for the tournament, are resigned to possibly being without teenage sensation Lionel Messi for their first game against the Ivory Coast on June 10.

The 18-year-old Barcelona player, who has not played competitively since damaging a thigh muscle against Chelsea in the Champions League

in March, arrived in Rome with the Argentina squad on Friday.

"Today, I don't think I'll be in the team," Messi said on Saturday. "I know I still have some way to go...I think I'll get into the rhythm in the time left."

Ivory Coast came from behind to draw 1-1 with Switzerland in their warm-up in Basel. Emerse Fae equalised in the 47th minute after the Swiss, who are in Group G in Germany along with France, had gone ahead through Tranquillo Barnetta.

Another of Argentina's opponents in Group C, Serbia & Montenegro, suffered a blow on Saturday when striker Mirko Vucinic was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

The Lecce player, very much the understudy for Mateja Kezman, picked up the injury on Tuesday in the under-21 team's opening game against Germany at the European championship in Portugal.

Coach Ilija Petkovic said he will name a replacement in a few days.

The pick of Saturday's later friendly internationals included France against Mexico, Serbia & Montenegro against Uruguay, Spain versus Russia and the Netherlands against Cameroon.

Martyn Herman
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