We expect Group D to be a highly competitive group, with Germany the favourites despite being touted as not being as nearly as strong as in previous tournaments. Serbia boast one of the tournaments strongest defences on paper, Ghana are one of the home continents top countries, and Australia have their strong team spirit that helped them reach the second round in 2006.
Philipp Lahm has stepped us in the role as captain for Germany following Michael Ballack’s injury in the FA Cup final that ruled him out of playing in his fourth World Cup. Lahm lead by example in a 3-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina recently, by scoring a powerful shot from outside the area to draw the sides level at the time. Joachim Low has selected a whole squad of domestically based players.
The winning mentality that German footballers possess means you cannot write this nation off. Even without Michael Ballack they’re not to be written off. Manuel Neuer looks set to take the responsibility of being the number 1 choice goalkeeper in this tournament. In front of him is the experience of Lahm, Arne Friedrich and Per Mertesacker. Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber will be looking to play left back too off the back of his debut season. Germany have a number of good youngsters pushing for appearances in this summers World Cup, including Manchester City target Jerome Boateng. The best of them include Mesut Ozil, Marko Marin and Thomas Müller. All of them are good shouts for the Young Player of the Tournament award! They are some of what are a part of the great future ahead for Germany. Miroslav Klose has scored 5 goals in each of his previous two World Cup’s. He is expected to start for Low’s Germany side, despite a bad season domestically. Mario Gomez has never impressed me at this level, but one player Germany should be able to rely on for goals is Lukas Podolski. Germany are a stronger team this year than many people give them credit for.
Looking for a better performance than in 2006 as Serbia and Montenegro where they were eliminated at the group stage with 0 points, conceding 10 goals. They entered that tournament with high hopes having conceded 1 goal in qualification. This time they qualified automatically having finished above France in their European qualification group. There is a lot of talent within the squad.
Nemanja Vidic is at the heart of their defence that also contains Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Their biggest concern defensively will be their eccentric goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. He is sure to entertain some viewers this summer. Their midfielder is full of excitement. The talented Dejan Stankovic is playing in his third World Cup (each for different nations) and will be used for his creativity and long range shooting ability from the centre of midfield. Wolves playmaker Nenad Milijas could also start in midfield along with the talented Milos Krasic. Manchester United fans may be hoping to get a look at Zoran Tosic this summer who makes the squad. As long as they don’t implode, Serbia have the ability to cause a surprise this summer.
Looking solid in defence, the Ghana squad need to find a way to score goals if they’re to progress from this group. The loss of Michael Essien is a big blow in their midfield. A gap too big to cover, Germany and Serbia’s central midifled should have more freedom playing through the middle against Ghana.
Ghana’s young defence performed very well at the African Cup of Nations at the beginning of the year. The same cannot be said of their attack that scored just 4 goals in 5 games. Sulley Muntari is their biggest attack from midfield with a good long shot on him, provided he can adjust to the new, heavily-criticised ball. Asamoah Gyan is a talented striker, but inconsistent. They could do with him finding some form in the group stage at least if they want to progress.
Renowned for their team spirit, Australia face a tough task of matching their performance of the last World Cup where they reached the second round. Whether they lack the talent or not to progress, they will give their best efforts. They’ve put up good performances in friendlies recently, but picking up points in two or more games in this group looks beyond them.
In Mark Schwarzer they have one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League keeping guard for them. Despite a 60 game season he’s still going to be up for the World Cup for which, at 37 is almost-certain to be his last. He’s going to be busy this summer too with a weak defence in front of him that includes the unattached Craig Moore and the tough-tackling Lucas Neill. Luke Wilkshire was an underrated player in England, now playing at full back. Tim Cahill is likely to be their most prominent player in the World Cup. A goalscoring midfielder, he poses a big threat from set pieces. Mark Bresciano and Harry Kewell are the only other household names in a squad that is likely to lack a punch up front and frailties at the back. I don’t expect Australia to be the worst nation at this year’s tournament, but they’re not going to do very well.