Germany World Cup Betting Preview 2010
Germany – many absentees but promising, young attackers. As Germany prepared to take on Bosnia-Herzegovina last night, their confidence was fairly mixed, as evident in the pragmatic nature of their 3-1 win. Off the back of two 3-0 victories over Hungary and Malta, and after a basketball score of 24-0 against amateur side Eppam, Germany believe in the form of their strikers. They are, however, missing talismanic Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, Christian Traesch, Heiko Westermann and their usual number one, Rene Adler. Add to that the pain still felt by the squad after Robert Enke, Hannover’s goalkeeper, committed suicide in November, and you have a strong team that’s been through a lot already.
Recent history suggests that Germany will prevail, however. In 2002, Rudi Voller led them all the way to the final only to lose agonisingly to Brazil. At home for 2006, they benefitted from the form of tournament top-scorer, Miroslav Klose, and were only knocked out by Italy in the 117th minute of the semi-final. And finally, in Euro 2008, Germany muscled their way to the final again, losing to a solitary goal from Fernando Torres. In each of these tournaments, Germany have been portrayed as short of pace and ideas.
In spite of a season of retirements, injuries and catastrophe, Germany have included six strikers in their squad: Bayern Munich trio Klose, Mario Gomez and Thomas Muller, Cologne’s Lukas Podolski, Stuttgart’s Brazilian-born Cacau and Bayer Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling.
At the back, Philip Lahm – widely regarded as one of the best full-backs in the modern game – has been handed the captaincy and will likely play alongside Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker and Marcel Jansen, in front of Shalke’s in demand young goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. The midfield will be adjusted thanks to Ballack’s absence, with Marko Marin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and Piotr Trochowski forming an extremely high-tempo link between the defenders and seasoned front pair, Klose and Podolski – who have a combined 86 goals from 167 appearances.
Their 5 main men are Philip Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and temperamental substitute, Mario Gomez.
Lahm, as captain, has an enormous responsibility on his shoulders. With the squad’s average age just under 25, the 26 year-old Lahm must be the perfect example of composed youth. Very quick and a good passer, Lahm will need to replicate the form of Euro 2008, where his winning goal in the 3-2 victory over Turkey propelled them to the final.
Mertesacker is an integral part of their challenge. Irreplaceable, he has partnered many defenders at the heart of the defence but remains first choice in spite of line-up changes. He must also make up for a potential deficiency in the team, his central defensive partner, Arne Friedrich, whose form has severely dropped with now-relegated Hertha Berlin.
Schweinsteiger may only be 25 but he is Germany’s second most capped player in the squad. Aggressive, elusive, selfish – ‘Schweini’, as he is affectionately known to his fans, can play anywhere in midfield, though has been shifted into central midfield recently for both club and country. 19 goals from midfield make him a danger both on the break and at dead ball situations.
Klose is almost certainly at his final international championship, despite being only 31 (the same age as Frank Lampard). The most capped player, Klose also boasts a phenomenal scoring record with more than a goal every two games and is Germany’s second highest goal-scorer of all time behind the unparalleled Gerd Muller.
Gomez is an enigma. Once the most prized asset of Stuttgart’s academy, he became the most expensive Bundesliga transfer of all time with a £30,000,000 move to Bayern Munich in 2009. But a downturn in fortunes have seen the 24 year-old become a bit-part striker for his club and, after a dreadful Euro 2008 where he competed with fellow Bayern striker Luca Toni for worst performance of the finals, Gomez has been used with caution. His number – 23 – is an indication of the distrust coach Joachim Low has for him. Gomez still has more than a goal every 3 games but it must be noted that he has only scored against Switzerland, San Marino, Austria, South Africa, UAE and Hungary – hardly the toughest of teams. At his best, Gomez can score a brace in a few minutes but he is just as likely, if not more so, to miss a dozen empty nets.
So how far can Germany go? With a ferocious team of talented youngsters, Germany can go into Group D safe in the knowledge that Australia, Serbia and Ghana will not be able to beat them. Unless England somehow manage to come second in Group C, Germany will likely face USA in the Last 16, who should prove troublesome but not sufficiently to halt their progress. From there, it becomes extremely difficult. Their likely opponents in the Quarter Final would be Argentina, who boast a barrage of highly skilled individuals – thankfully, Argentina barely qualified for the finals under the coaching of Diego Maradona and their team is particularly unsteady at the back as well as being reliant on a much older squad. And should they battle past Argentina, Spain or Italy would be their reward, two teams of serious contenders. With so much against them, Germany might indeed be lucky to get to meet Spain or Italy but there it would certainly end – no appearance in the final against England or Brazil. Semi-finals.