In Group D’s other match, 2006’s hosts, Germany, take on 2006’s surprise package, Australia.
Switching to the Asian football association, Australia qualified for the World Cup before with two games to spare, regularly playing against tougher opposition than they had previously been used to. Still able to count on the experience and leadership of captain Lucas Neill, Vince Grella and Harry Kewell (all based in Turkey), as well as the indispensible Scott Chipperfield, Mark Schwarzer, Brett Emerton and Tim Cahill.
Germany have had a very easy, unbeaten route to the finals, scoring a mouth-watering 24 goals along the way. Always a force to be reckoned with, no team relishes facing them. With Manuel Neuer set to claim the no.1 jersey, this young team will be hugely confident of progressing, despite a very tough group.
It’s impossible to believe Australia have what it takes to beat Germany but whether they have the strength to come away with a draw is another question. A 3-1 defeat to USA might suggest that stronger opposition can dominate them. With a fit Lukas Podolski aiming to reignite his career after a hugely disappointing season at Cologne, the omens are against the Socceroos.
It promises to be entertaining but it’s hard to see past a solid German victory. The games against Ghana and Serbia are where we’ll see the best of Cahill & co.