BERLIN (AFP) - Germany captain Michael Ballack on Thursday urged the Euro 2008 finalists to raise their game for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein to banish the memories of their recent defeats.
The 32-year-old Chelsea star is demanding a raised effort in Leipzig from his side who have lost their last two home games: a 2-1 defeat to England last November and a 1-0 defeat to Norway in February.
Germany have not suffered back-to-back home defeats since 1956 and Ballack says only a convincing win over Liechenstein, ranked 151st in the world, will suffice.
"We simply have to play better and put in a better performance," Ballack told sports magazine Kicker.
"And it will happen."
Germany are top of their qualifying group and are unbeaten with three wins and a draw to give them a four-point lead over their main group rivals Russia.
But the Germans travel to Moscow in October for the tie which could decide the group and Ballack says it is crucial Germany win both their next two games against Liechtenstein and then Wales in Cardiff on April 1.
"Even if we don't win these games by much, the result is very important," said Ballack.
"We must win these games and stay on course to be group leaders in the autumn when we travel to Moscow.
"We have laid the foundations for some important games which, figuratively speaking, will decide the life or death of who reaches the World Cup.
"As captain, that is something I am trying to point out."
And Ballack says he has no worries about whether Germany will reach next year's World Cup which takes place in South Africa from June 11 to July 11.
"We will qualify for the World Cup," insisted Ballack.
"We will get through the qualifying group, even if things get a bit tight.
"After that, we will meet the big teams and we will have to play at a higher level against the type of teams like Spain, who we lost to at the Euro.
"Everybody must have an eye on the bigger picture, that is important."
Germany's defeat to Norway in February shocked the national media and the squad can ill-afford another upset against minnows Liechtenstein.
"We can play good football, but in addition we have to have discipline and order," said Ballack who will win his 91st cap on Saturday.
"It is part of our mentality and if we don't have it then we struggle, even against the likes of Norway."
Having sparked a media spat with coach Joachim Loew last autumn by accusing him of not showing senior players enough respect and loyalty, Ballack says he has not changed his leadership style, but is more flexible.
"My leadership style is the same as it always was and I haven't changed it," he said.
"I have developed it, but not changed it.
"I am always open to new ideas, but you can't always be right."
And Ballack says certain differences of opinion are healthy in a team environment.
"There must be some tensions in a team, which you can't always wipe away or smooth over.
"Things aren't always full of sunshine, there has to be friction at times as well."
|Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Chelsea|
|Footballers charged in match-fixing probe|
|Suarez vindicated for staying at Liverpool, says Rodgers|
|Klopp targets ´result machines´ Leverkusen|
|Premier League Preview: Liverpool v West Ham|
|Pardew expects Manchester United reaction|
|Premier League Preview: Sunderland v Tottenham|
|Hamren extends Sweden deal|
|Del Nido sentenced to seven years|
|Bundesliga Preview: Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen|
|Hughton: Norwich must forget Suarez show|
|Tomkins eager to face Liverpool strikeforce|
|Platini talks up sin bin proposal|
|Ronaldo keen to avoid World Cup favourites|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Sochaux|
|Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Newcastle United|
|Martino accepts responsibility for Barca defeats|
|Dossena confident ahead of Spurs test|
|Montpellier coach Fernandez resigns|
|Wenger: Too early to dismiss United challenge|
|Mackay hails tireless Campbell|
|Robben ruled out for six weeks with knee injury|
|Berbatov committed to Fulham, claims Meulensteen|
|Villas-Boas lauds Lloris for bouncing back|
|Bundesliga Preview: Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich|
|Golden boy Pogba must keep his head down, says Conte|
|Pellegrini tips Aguero to extend goal glut|
|Landreau proud of Ligue 1 landmark|
|Moyes unsure over Van Persie return|
|Suarez grounded over Liverpool prospects|
|Robben set for scans on knee gash|
|J.League Preview: Hiroshima can still defend title|
|Blanc hails Evian´s ´heart´ after shock PSG loss|
|Copa Sudamericana: Ponte Preta 1 Lanus 1|
|Pruis denies safety concerns for Brazil 2014|
|World Cup stadiums will be ready - Brazil´s sports minister|
|West Brom spirit pleases Clarke|
|Pellegrini enjoys away tonic|
|Coppa Italia Wrap: Inter survive scare to advance|
|Ligue 1 Wrap: PSG suffer shock loss, Landreau makes history|
|Mackay hails ´brave´ Cardiff point|
|Laudrup delighted with Shelvey flexibility|
|Seedorf tips Brazil to win World Cup|
|Eredivisie Wrap: Heerenveen, Go Ahead leave it late|
|Hughton salutes Suarez, slams Norwich defending|
|Rodgers hails ´incredible´ Suarez after four-goal salvo|
|No excuses from frustrated Moyes|
|Pardew has ref rage over Webb after Swansea loss|
|Football League Wrap: Derby go fourth, Wigan lose again|
|Meulensteen bullish after Spurs defeat|
|Poyet: Chelsea will win the title|
|Pochettino bemoans defensive display|
|Lambert hails quality finishing|
|Forest reveal alleged Chalobah abuse|
|Hughes: Stoke need to sharpen up|
|DFB Pokal Wrap: Bayern, Bayer both progress to the quarter-finals|
|Villas-Boas delighted to end winless run|
|Bruce happy to avoid ´embarrassing´ Arsenal loss|
|Martinez proud as Everton end hoodoo|
|Wenger hails Bendtner quality|
|Mourinho marvels at Hazard showing|
|Eredivisie Preview: Vitesse, Ajax look to extend unbeaten runs|
|Premier League: West Brom 2 Manchester City 3|
|Ligue 1: Evian 2 Paris Saint-Germain 0|
|Premier League: Fulham 1 Tottenham 2|
|Premier League: Manchester United 0 Everton 1|
|Premier League: Southampton 2 Aston Villa 3|
|Premier League: Swansea City 3 Newcastle United 0|
|Premier League: Liverpool 5 Norwich City 1|
|Premier League: Stoke City 0 Cardiff City 0|
|Premier League: Sunderland 3 Chelsea 4|
|Rakitic wary of Sevilla away-day slump|
|Garcia hails Totti as ´one of the best´|
|Reina would welcome Barcelona return|
|Garde calls for Lyon to become more mature|
|Pique rejects crisis talk|
|Kramer keen for Monchengladbach to maintain focus|
|Ince blasts ill-disciplined Blackpool|
|Delph loving life under Lambert|
|Courtois seeks Chelsea talks over future|
|Valbuena out for up to six weeks|
|Iraola signs new Athletic deal|
|Berbatov keen on Fulham exit|
|Borini up for Chelsea test|
|Rodgers asks Spanish pair to lift Liverpool|
|Inverness appoint Hughes|
|Jaaskelainen annoyed with Palace loss|
|Klopp hails Dortmund display|
|Pulis tips Chamakh to shine|
|Walker fired up for Fulham trip|
|Enyeama lauds collective Lille effort|
|Copa del Rey Preview: Atletico open against Sant Andreu, Barcelona face Cartagena|
|Serie A Preview: Bologna v Juventus|
|Di Natale needs more help, says Guidolin|
|Prandelli: Totti retirement backflip possible|
|Points all that matter, says Lille president Seydoux|
|Ranieri harbours no hopes of Monaco catching PSG|
|Liga MX Preview: Herrera´s America out to break winless run in semi-finals|
|West Ham ´hard done by´ after goal disallowed|
|´Brazuca´ revealed as the official World Cup ball|
|Garde puts heat on Lyon to respond to PSG pummelling|
|Blatter backs Brazil to be ready|
|Stranded Belounis furious with FIFA inaction|
|Championship Wrap: Wednesday stun Leicester as Yeovil, Barnsley also win|
|A-League Preview: Styles collide as Adelaide host Brisbane|
|Pulis expects further Palace improvement|
|Coppa Italia Wrap: Bologna fall to Siena, Parma ease past Varese|
|Allardyce bemoans wasteful West Ham|
|Ligue 1 Wrap: Lille, Monaco keep in touch with PSG|
|DFB-Pokal Wrap: Hoffenheim oust Schalke, Dortmund safely through|
|Premier League: Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 0|
|Mourinho dismisses Lukaku comments|
|Juninho retains Premier League affection|
|John signs new Cardiff deal|
|Juventus fined after schoolchildren insult Udinese goalkeeper|
|Bruce seeks truce on name change row|
|Mulumbu denies wanting to leave West Brom|
|FIFA World Cup draw pots announced|
|Hughes targets strong Stoke run|
|Blanc wants motivated PSG|
|Iniesta: Barca need to improve|
|Kompany set for Manchester City return|
|Van Persie set to feature against Everton|
|Chelsea set to welcome Eto´o back|
|Neville expects Fellaini to thrive at United|
|Agbonlahor backs misfiring Benteke to come good|
|Vidal signs new Juve deal|
|Lille appeal for calm after Thauvin airport altercation|
|Mackay confident Cardiff can compete|
|Napoli need to grow, says Higuain|
|Martinez convinced Pienaar is back to his best|
|Boruc out for ´some weeks´, reveals Pochettino|
|Cotterill takes charges at Ashton Gate|
|Petkovic: Mistakes cost us against Napoli|
|Lewandowski hopeful of Bayern slip-up|
|Wenger dismisses title talk|
|Crawley announce Gregory as new manager|
|Wenger denies move for Morata|
|Denswil in line for new Ajax contract|
|Ivanovic: This is Chelsea´s best chance to win the league|
|Le Tallec out for six weeks|
|Soldado hungry for goals|
|Mexico confirm Herrera as World Cup coach|
|Pellegrini not interested in selling Dzeko|
|Rodgers rules out January spending spree|
|Dembele, Sandro defend Villas-Boas|
|Betis announce Garrido to replace Mel|
|Benitez slams Stadio Olimpico pitch|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Wrap: The Strongest edge out Guabira|
|Baup: Lille not good enough to challenge PSG|
|Baresi, Capello headline new Italian Hall of Fame inductees|
|Girard labels Lille-Marseille ´one of the games of the year´|
|Hodgson concerned about venues in World Cup draw|
|Klopp set to name strongest team possible|
|Keller demands defensive improvement from Schalke|
|Paraguay Division Profesional Wrap: Champions remain unbeaten|