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Lahm played in a holding midfield position for the majority of last season at Bayern Munich, but Ballack believes doing the same at international level is a mistake.
Captain Lahm's role came under increased scrutiny during the 2-2 draw against Ghana, when he gave the ball away in the build-up to the goal that put the African side 2-1 in front.
Speculation suggests some Germany players are unhappy that Lahm is not playing at left-back, and Ballack wrote in his column for Express: "I don't understand why Low sees him in midfield.
"Don't get me wrong, he is a super player -- but he is needed in the back four in the national team. He is much more valuable there. He's played there for years, and has turned into a world class player."
Ballack said Germany should field a back four of Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. "This would be a defence with World Cup class," he wrote.
He said that would also create the space for Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger to take the holding midfield role and asked: "Why should we, by free choice, rob ourselves of Lahm in a position the whole world envies us for? We only weaken ourselves.
"Moreover, Lahm takes away a place on the pitch for another world class player. And that's Bastian Schweinsteiger for me."
But Ballack, who lost the Germany armband to Lahm when he missed the 2010 World Cup through injury, added: "I could imagine that Philipp would not like to return to the back four. He's 30 now, and knows that it will get more and more difficult to meet the challenges of the hard-running full back position."
Germany with full squad ready to face U.S.
ESPN FC's Gustavo Hofman reports that Germany will have full squad available ready for their upcoming match against U.S.
Defensive tactics key for United States
ESPN's Roberto Martinez and Ruud Van Nistelrooy break down what United States have to do to defend Germany's attack.