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."
|Smalling: Captaining United an honour|
|No surprises in Mexico´s 40-man Copa squad|
|Juanfran: We are a team of details|
|Stepanenko: My friendship with Yarmolenko is over|
|Leicester fan Martinez: I am glad it did not happen in Germany|
|Schwarzer has shown age is just a number - Kisnorbo|
|Mangala: City want to make history in Champions League|
|Lineker struggling to believe Leicester success|
|Carrick: Top four not gone yet|
|De Gea named United´s player of the year|
|Dundee 2 Dundee United 1: Visitors relegated|
|King delighted to crown Leicester rise with title|
|Ranieri: I knew I would win a title eventually!|
|Soccer world reacts to Leicester´s remarkable Premier League title|
|Serie A Review: Strootman starts as Roma fight back again|
|Leicester success a ´good omen´ for Selby|
|Kane: Chelsea celebrated like they won title|
|Thumping Man City, edging Tottenham and five matches that won Leicester the Premier League|
|Vardy marvels at Leicester´s finest hour|
|Ranieri called me to say thanks, reveals Hiddink|
|Leicester did the impossible - Morgan|
|Terry: Leicester title triumph gives hope to smaller sides|
|Pochettino proud as Spurs fall short|
|Savage: Leicester title a key moment in Premier League history|
|Football world reacts to Leicester´s remarkable Premier League title|
|Leicester deserve Premier League title - Hazard|
|Leicester players celebrate Premier League title triumph in style|
|From Tinkerman to champion: Ranieri writes the greatest story ever told|
|Champions Leicester worthy of a film - Heskey|
|The greatest upset: Champions Leicester break new ground for sporting underdogs|
|Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2: Leicester champions as Spurs collapse at Stamford Bridge|
|Leicester crowned Premier League champions|
|Werder Bremen 6 Stuttgart 2: Crushing win lights up survival fight|
|Malaga 3 Levante 1: Late collapse all but relegates Rubi´s men|
|Neuer cites home crowd as advantage for Atleti clash|
|Icardi surprised by Argentina selection|
|Ribery fit to face Atletico in Champions League semi-final|
|FIFA extends Sakho ban worldwide|
|Torres and Atletico ready for war at Bayern|
|Football League Review: Burnley earn promotion back to the Premier League|
|Simeone pledges to chase victory at Allianz Arena|
|´Nothing in life is certain´ - Handanovic on Inter future|
|CAS order FIFA to reconsider Gibraltar membership|
|Trapattoni: I love Simeone and Atletico´s style|
|Balotelli is a changed man, says Galliani|
|Real Madrid job is about politics - Pellegrini|
|De Laurentiis wants Sarri at Napoli long term|
|Yarmolenko will not go to Everton or Stoke - Dynamo president|
|Suarez a difference maker - Stoichkov|
|Drinkwater to face no further action from FA|
|Albrighton: Leicester players will watch Chelsea v Tottenham together|
|More to Manchester City than Aguero - Casemiro|
|Boban: Maldini can save Milan|
|Real Madrid v Manchester City: Pellegrini eyes away goal as Zidane hopes for Ronaldo|
|Pellegrini doubts longevity of Leicester´s credentials|
|Portugal unconcerned by Ronaldo fitness|
|Ribery tells Guardiola to play him against Atletico|
|Vardy wins FWA Player of the Year award|
|Hiddink: Title pressure could get to Tottenham|
|Messi never cheats, insists Xavi|
|Dortmund tell Bayern Hummels fee is non-negotiable|
|Welbeck a different animal again - Wenger|
|Xavi: Real Madrid played like a small team in Clasico|
|Bayern can win Champions League - Santa Cruz|
|Reina backs Atletico to win the double|
|Perth Glory lure Herd to A-League|
|England can´t afford Australia loss - Kewell|
|Stankovic: Simeone will coach Inter, but not now|
|I had to rotate squad - Pellegrini|
|Candreva backs Inzaghi for Lazio job|
|I can make fans forget my bad season – Hazard|
|MLS Review: Cole sees red in Galaxy stalemate, Valeri stunner lifts Timbers|
|Pochettino: Deal announcement can convince Tottenham stars to stay|
|Hiddink: Chelsea can´t replace Terry|
|Pulisic, Morris picked by Klinsmann in initial Copa squad|
|Wenger anticipated worse from protests|
|Kante set to have stand named after him|
|Furious Mancini slams Inter´s ´worst ever´ first half against Lazio|
|Serie A Review: Champions League places locked, Milan play out six-goal thriller|
|La Liga Review: Villarreal secure Champions League return|
|Lazio 2 Inter 0: Champions League race comes to a Klose|
|Koeman delivers Pelle warning|
|Morata wants to stay at Juventus, claims Marotta|
|Pellegrini disappointed with City defending in defeat|
|Iheanacho: City will bounce back from Saints defeat|
|´On fire´ Mane salutes Southampton show|
|Angers 0 Marseille 1: Batshuayi strike secures Ligue 1 status|
|Southampton 4 Manchester City 2: Mane hat-trick blows top-four race open|
|Van Gaal calls for video referees after Drinkwater decision|
|Schmeichel: I don´t care how we win it|
|Montella open to Italy role|
|Brocchi pleased with Milan fightback|
|Van Gaal defends ´human´ Fellaini over Huth elbow clash|
|Ronaldo wants Zidane to stay at Madrid|
|Ranieri to miss decisive Tottenham clash|
|Rooney disappointed after Leicester draw dents top-four hopes|
|Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid: Hosts seek to vent Bundesliga frustration|
|Leicester captain Morgan hails battling Old Trafford point|
|AC Milan 3-3 Frosinone: Menez penalty denies strugglers|
|Klopp not concerned by Sturridge behaviour|
|Manchester United 1 Leicester City 1: Captain Morgan on target as Foxes edge closer to glory|
|Allofs: We do not have the same weapons as Bayern|
|Guidolin coy on Swansea future|
|Allegri happy with win after title celebrations|
|Umtiti flattered by Tottenham interest|
|Klopp frustrated by lacklustre Liverpool|
|Hannover mourn Feierabend|
|Godin, Carrasco fit for Bayern clash|
|Swansea City 3 Liverpool 1: Ayew double punishes wasteful visitors|
|Dybala claims Messi, Ronaldo would score less in Italy|
|Juventus 2 Carpi 0: Hernanes, Zaza on target as champions march on|
|Ronaldo back in training for Madrid|
|Barcelona confirm Bravo calf injury|
|Aulas brands Ligue 1 ´championship of Qatar´|
|Leicester City at Manchester United: Aiming for Hollywood ending to title push|
|I can start for England at Euro 2016 - Sturridge|
|Dybala never doubted Juventus|
|Aguero celebrates brother´s Independiente debut|
|Sturridge rounds on critics, plays down Klopp rift|
|Adelaide United 3 Western Sydney Wanderers 1: Reds seal maiden A-League title|
|Eriksson: Simeone is an example to follow|
|´Where am I?´ - Lovren reveals travel struggles|
|´If I have to leave Bayern, then I will´ - Benatia|
|Walker ´over the moon´ after Pochettino agrees new deal|
|MLS Review: Villa leads City, Impact held|
|We´d probably be relegated without Defoe – Allardyce|
|Koeman: Leicester will do well in Champions League|
|Ronaldo needs rest or could miss Euros - doctor|
|United shaped me as a player - Schlupp|
|Sanchez, Vidal lead Chile´s Copa squad|
|Arsenal´s patience paid off - Cech|
|I will know Madrid´s plans - Pellegrini|
|Granada 3 Las Palmas 2: Superb comeback boosts hosts´ survival hopes|
|Martinez pleased with impact of new faces|
|Ligue 1 Review: Lyon, Monaco continue fight for second|
|Serie A Review: Fiorentina frustrated, Torino hit five|
|Barca keeper Bravo set for tests on calf strain|