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."
|Irvine: I have not seen Ideye play live|
|Olympiacos triumph in Toronto|
|Giggs likens Van Gaal to Ferguson|
|Copa do Brasil Review: Corinthians among trio on the verge of progression|
|Blanc: World Cup stars will move on|
|Pinto steps down as Costa Rica coach|
|Mourinho planning Drogba swoop|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Rosenborg complete comeback to see off Sligo|
|Mathieu out to enjoy Barcelona move|
|Mandzukic not Diego Costa´s replacement|
|Eliseu returns to Portugal with Benfica|
|Sanabria makes Roma switch|
|Carroll to miss start of season|
|Vidal: I´m not going to Manchester|
|Xavi staying at Barcelona|
|Hannover complete Gulselam signing|
|Astori loaned to Roma, Cagliari confirm|
|Nigeria to talk with Keshi over return|
|Gamberini makes Chievo move|
|Besic poised to complete Everton move|
|Marseille move Montpellier fixture from Stade Velodrome|
|CSL Preview: Harbin eye Luneng scalp, Guangzhou face Hena|
|Guardiola preaches patience with Lewandowski|
|Lampard joins New York City|
|Blanc coy on Di Maria speculation|
|CAF Confederation Cup Preview: ASEC coach confident, Al Ahly seek qualification|
|Chelsea loan Piazon to Frankfurt|
|Pochettino has high hopes for Lamela|
|Aguirre appointed as Japan coach|
|Swansea swoop for Montero|
|Pozuelo makes Vallecano switch|
|Fred back at Shakhtar, Ismaily to follow|
|CFF investigate Fofana accusations|
|Suarez could make sensational Clasico debut|
|Ribery in line for return, says Guardiola|
|Reus could resume training in two or three weeks - Klopp|
|Roma need another defender, says Garcia|
|Everton on verge of new signings|
|Rodrigo hails Nuno after Valencia switch|
|Delph eager for new Villa deal|
|Ljajic not seeking Roma exit|
|Talks held as players strike in Ecuador|
|Crouch excited by Bojan capture|
|Lambert expects swift recovery for Cole|
|West Ham duo fail to travel|
|United to play 3-4-3, says Van Gaal|
|Lallana, Markovic set to feature against Olympiacos|
|Real want to win every trophy, says Bale|
|San Jose Earthquakes 5 Chicago Fire 1: Hosts break winless streak|
|Chelsea have "outstanding squad" - Costa|
|United make winning start under Van Gaal|
|Rodgers plays down Borini injury concerns|
|Atletico Mineiro 4 Lanus 3 (agg 5-3): Own goals gift Brazilians the win|
|Dunga names Brazil assistants|
|Man City show class in Kansas|
|Villa too good for Dallas|
|Santos cannot meet Robinho´s demands, says vice-president|
|Mourinho happy with goalkeeper situation|
|Borini hurt as Liverpool lose to Roma|
|Palace held to draw by Crew|
|Tottenham down Toronto after Lamela brace|
|San Lorenzo 5 Bolivar 0: Hosts close in on Copa Libertadores final|
|Sunderland forward Scocco joins Newell´s|
|Rodgers: We won´t overpay in transfer market|
|Maccabi Haifa friendly abandoned after pitch invasion|
|USA dynamo Beasley joins Houston|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Steaua ease through as Legia Warsaw hit five|
|Youngsters inspire Sunderland to win at Hartlepool|
|Aluko and Sagbo net as Hull City beat York|
|PSG loan Aurier from Toulouse|
|Emotional Davies thanks Swansea fans|
|Mandzukic makes debut as Atletico win|
|Filipe makes bow in Chelsea draw|
|Bahebeck stars again as PSG beat Nice|
|Conte rubbishes PSG talk|
|Tottenham sign Davies and Vorm as Sigurdsson joins Swansea|
|De Laurentiis vows Napoli will fight for Scudetto|
|Lyon sign Jallet from PSG|
|Rijeka deny racism allegations|
|Suarez has been treated ´like a murderer´, says Aspas|
|Basel secure Samuel swoop|
|Thai Premier League Review: Buriram go top as Muang Thong slip up|
|Dnipro-Copenhagen clash moved to Kiev|
|Tevez never considered Juve exit|
|Djuricic joins Mainz on loan|
|Cavani keen on PSG stay|
|Shaqiri flattered by Juventus link|
|Johnson, Sommer arrive at Monchengladbach|
|J.League Review: Kawasaki close gap on Sagan, Urawa move clear at top|
|Coleman to miss Everton´s Thailand trip|
|Thankful Rueda bids farewell to Ecuador|
|Liga MX Preview: Peralta set for home debut, Leon seek recovery|
|K.League Review: Top two draw blanks, Jeju United close in|
|CAF Champions League Preview: Zamalek primed for crucial game, CS Sfaxien meet ES Tunis|
|Low quashes Germany exit rumours|
|Getafe agree Michel loan|
|Porto bring in Brahimi from Granada|
|Pardew satisfied with attacking signings|
|Pellegrini targets further City signings|
|Sevilla complete Krychowiak deal|
|Eisfeld makes Fulham move|
|Zarate opens account as West Ham stumble|
|I have nothing to prove, says Ince|
|Barcelona seal Mathieu deal|
|United prepared to spend big, claims Woodward|
|Shakhtar to play in Lviv|
|Pereyra poised for Juve switch|
|Fabregas eyes trophies at Chelsea|
|Vorm confirms Tottenham transfer|
|Deila: Forster will leave Celtic eventually|
|No pressure for Shaw|
|Van Gaal happy with preparations|
|Diarra aiming for Bordeaux return after West Ham frustration|
|Last season for Montpellier owner Nicollin|
|Monaco: Rodriguez deal too good to ignore|
|Nacional Asuncion 2 Defensor Sporting 0: Hosts surge towards Libertadores final|
|Garcia eyeing Serie A title|
|Father against Vlasic´s move abroad|
|Rodgers welcomes Gerrard´s international retirement|
|Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro bid for Robinho|
|Inzaghi not drawn into Balotelli speculation|
|Dunga ´not going to sell a dream´|
|City´s Fofana allegedly racially abused|
|Carroll ruled out of NZ friendlies|
|Rodgers excited by new arrivals|