New Chelsea signing Michael Ballack (2nd from left) is amongst those who’ve been critical of Germany manager Juergen Klinsmann, a situation Klinsmann claims not to be troubled by. Judging by Friday’s result in a friendly against Colombia, player and boss have every reason to be optimistic. From the Independent’s Tim Collings.

The newly recruited Chelsea midfielder not only headed the opening goal in a 3-0 triumph that might have finished with the hosts doubling their score, but he also organised, defended, cajoled, passed and orchestrated in a performance that supplied a well-deserved dose of confidence to a promising, youthful, team, who open the tournament on Friday night in Munich against Costa Rica.

Ballack, of course, missed the 2002 final in Yokohama, after scoring a decisive semi-final goal against South Korea and then being cautioned for a selfless foul that ensured both his team’s place in the showpiece and his personal absence. This time he deserves better, because if his team-mates rise to the occasion this world-class footballer has all the skills to grace the greatest stage of all.

Beaten 4-1 in Italy in March and embarrassed in a 2-2 draw with Japan in Leverkusen last Tuesday, Germany proved they could defend, too, when required. The omens, for them, are good. In 15 appearances in the finals, they have made the semi-finals 10 times, reached the final seven times and lifted the trophy three times. What price a fourth?

Congrats to former QPR striker Peter Crouch on his first ever international hat trick, coming in England’s 6-0 demolition of Jamaica earlier today.  Not sure if I’m ready to believe there’s a full-fledged Crouch-inspired dance craze afoot, but I’m always the last to know about these things. I once thought the Icky Shuffle was an STD.

(UPDATE : Not only is there some video evidence of Crouchy’s silky moves, but apparently he’s a menace on the microphone as well :