PREVIEW-Soccer-Germany without Ballack at start of crucial year

Refiling: correcting first name of Argentinian defender

By Kevin Fylan

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Feb 8 - Germany will be
without captain Michael Ballack when they begin a crucial run of
international matches in 2005 against Argentina on Wednesday.

The Bayern Munich midfielder was feeling the effects of a
cold when he joined up with the squad and coach Juergen
Klinsmann ruled him out of the match on Tuesday.

"Ballack has gone back to Munich," Klinsmann said. "He
played in a similar condition against Brazil and it only made
things worse."

Klinsmann wants his side to use 2005 to prove they can mount
a serious challenge for a home triumph at next year's World Cup.

Germany have won five and lost just one of their seven
matches since Klinsmann took over following a dismal showing at
Euro 2004.

Only one of those games, a draw with Brazil, was against a
top class side and Germany have to look back to their 1-0 win
over England in 2000 for their last victory against one of world
soccer's leading powers.

They will have at least three more chances to set that
record straight by the end of the year.

They play Argentina, and possibly Brazil again, in the
Confederations Cup and there are further friendly internationals
to come against the Netherlands and France.

"This year has a lot of highlights and it's going to teach
us a lot," Klinsmann said. "We need such big games ahead of the
World Cup. They're very instructive."

Klinsmann said Jens Lehmann would keep goal against
Argentina. The goalkeeper had lost his place in Arsenal's first
team this season, although he was recalled at the weekend.

Oliver Kahn, who is battling with Lehmann for the right for
the number one spot at the World Cup, will play in Germany's
next friendly international away to Slovenia.

Probable teams:

Germany: Jens Lehmann; Andreas Hinkel, Arne Friedrich,
Christian Woerns, Christian Schulz; Bernd Schneider, Torsten
Frings, Fabian Ernst, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Kevin Kuranyi,
Miroslav Klose

Argentina: Roberto Abbondanzieri; Javier Zanetti, Gonzalo
Rodriguez, Gabriel Heinze, Juan Pablo Sorin; Juan Roman
Riquelme, Lionel Scaloni, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Aimar; Javier
Saviola, Hernan Crespo

Referee: Stefano Farina (Italy)