World Cup Group D Preview: Same old, same old from the Germans?

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Germany

Overview: Germany is to soccer as Michigan State is to college basketball. They are the kings of consistency. It seems like every World Cup there are question marks with Germany, but they do nothing but prove people wrong. They made it to the final in the ’02 World Cup and lost to eventual champions, Italy, in ’06. More recently, they finished runner-up to Spain at Euro 2008. Germany has won four out of five friendlies, their only loss to a strong Argentina squad.

By Justin Mertes-Mistretta

Strength: This team, just like German teams of the past, is built on stingy defense and efficient attacking. They have some of the most physical players in the world and experienced strikers. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski are no longer in their prime, but they bring experience that is hard to find and may prove to be important for this young German squad.

Weakness: Injuries. This team has had more injuries than a 90-year old with osteoporosis. Their captain and star player, midfielder Michael Ballack, is not even on the roster because of an ankle injury. Other notable players include first-string goalie Rene Adler and midfielder Christian Traesch. Traditionally, goalkeeping is a strength for Germany, but with Adler out it will be interesting to see how young back-up Manuel Neuer performs.

Player to Watch: Bastian Schweinsteiger. His name sounds like a type of sausage that you would order at Miller Park. Don’t let his name fool you, he can play. At 25-years of age, he is in the prime of his career. His performance will be crucial for the Germans success, because he will be taking over for the star midfielder, Ballack. The Ballack injury may be a blessing in disguise if Schweinsteiger can perform well, because Ballack was on the downside of his career even before his injury.

australia soccer

Australia

Overview: The Socceroos came out of nowhere in the ’06 World Cup, making their first World Cup appearance in 32 years. They made it all the way to the second round, losing to eventual champions, Italy. This team won’t sneak up on anyone this time around as everyone is aware of how good Australia is.

Strength: Experience. This is a veteran squad and they know what it takes to get out of the knockout stage after their ’06 World Cup run. They have a stout defense led by 37-year old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who is one of the top goalies in the English Premier League. He recorded seven clean sheets in the final eight qualifying matches. If he is able to keep this up, Australia may improve on their ’06 performance.

Weakness: With center forward, Mark Viduka, taking a break from international soccer, there is a huge hole to fill. With him out of the line-up, it will be interesting to see who will score goals for Australia. They will need the trio of Nikita Rukavytsya, Harry Kewell and Brett Holman to help replace the scoring that will be missing with Viduka gone.

Player to Watch: Captain Lucas Neill is the anchor of the back-line. He will be looking to redeem himself after giving up the game-winning penalty to Italy in the ’06 World Cup.

Serbia

Overview: In the 2006 World Cup Serbia combined with Montenegro and lacked team chemistry, dropping out during group play. This year they are independent from Montenegro and their team looks to be more cohesive as a result.

Strength: Height. Serbia has six players over 6’4” and will have an advantage on almost every set-piece. Their tallest player is Nikola Zigic at 6’8”. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding Zigic. He will be the guy that makes his defender look like this: click here.

Weakness: When Serbia is not in a set-piece they may have trouble scoring. Serbia’s leading scorer in qualifiers was a midfielder. The strikers will have to step up if Serbia is to advance.

Player to Watch: Captain, Dejan Stankovic, is possibly playing in his last World Cup. He is surely hoping that his success with Inter Milan in the Champion’s League will carry over to this year’s World Cup for Serbia.

Ghana

Overview: Finishing as runners-up in the African Nations Cup, Ghana is definitely one of the better teams coming out of Africa. However, losing star midfielder Michael Essien to injury will be a huge blow for this team. His versatility will be missed greatly.

Strength: Youth. With many young players unknown outside of Africa, this team could have the element of surprise on their side. Asamoah Gyan, 20 years old, had three goals in the African Nations Cup.

Weakness: Versatility. With Essien out, there is a huge hole to fill at midfielder. Essien was a player who could go from defending to attacking in a heartbeat, but now that dimension is missing.

Player to Watch: Matthew Amoah. He led Ghana in scoring during qualifying. If Amoah and Gyan play at their top form at the same time, this team will make their home crowd happy.

Predictions

1 – Germany (7 pts): Picking Germany to advance is “so easy a caveman can do it”.

2 – Australia (6 pts): They know what it takes to advance. I can’t bet against this scrappy bunch.

3 – Serbia (4 pts): Close call between Serbia and Australia, but Australia has the experience edge.

4 – Ghana (0 pts): Without Essien, I think they will have a tough time.

Find more articles on the World Cup by Justin Mertes-Mistretta at http://www.percysperspective.com/

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Germany is my team! I actually own 1 soccer jersey, and it’s a German team of some sort. Go Deutchsland! celebrating my heritage.

    So I really like the MSU analogy, as that’s my team too

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