World Cup: Look Out For – Germany
By Paul Downey.
The fourth in our ‘Look Out For’ series is the unfancied but never under-estimated Germany. The one golden rule of tournaments gone by: never write off the Germans. Many a famous commentator has uttered such words, as the Germans continued to surprise the critics.
After an ageing German side was eliminated at the quarter final stage by surprise package Croatia at France 98, the side seemed to evolve possibly helped by some high profile defeats. After being eliminated in the group stages of Euro 2000 and a 5-1 hammering by England in Munich, the Germans set about a massive rebuilding job which has seen them reach the Final in 2002 and the Semis in 2006 on home turf.
The main talking point from their squad is the absence of Captain Michael Ballack, after a heavy challenge from Portsmouth’s Kevin Prince Boateng in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea ruled him out. One of his understudies Christian Traesch, as well as goalkeeper Rene Adler and Simon Rolfes are all out through injury as well.
With regards to who is there, some usual suspects in Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose (who linked up so well in 2006) along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and newly crowned Captain Philip Lahm. The squad has a solid if not spectacular feel to it, and could possibly benefit from Ballack’s absence allowing someone such as Schweinsteiger able to shine their own star without being engulfed by the shadow of Ballack’s. Ballack though does play alot more of a influential role for the national side than his almost pedestrian role in Chelsea’s league and cup triumph. His goals could have been vital, especially in tight games.
As part of Group D, it seems wide open who is going to make it to the knockout stages with Ghana (minus Michael Essien), Australia and another wild card in Serbia all capable of challenging the Germans. They should make it through comfortably, and could lead to a second round tie with England or possibly the USA, and maybe even Argentina in the Quarter Finals, the same stage they eliminated the South Americans in 2006.
The Germans will need a lot of luck but don’t discount their will to win, which seems to pull them through when the going gets tough. Mario Gomez scores for fun in the Bundesliga but hasn’t impressed in the international shirt. Does anyone recall his miss of the tournament in Euro 2008? Also Miroslav Klose has been prolific in the last two World Cups and is aiming to be amongst the top scorers in the history of the tournament.
So Germany the perennial ‘over-achievers’, would you bet against them?
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