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Michael Taylor 8th Jan 2010 - 10:05

World Cup 2010: Group D

It may have escaped the tag of 'Group of Death' but nobody can doubt Group D should be one of the hardest to get out of at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, even for the savvy Germans.

Most of the talk is sure to be about how Australia, Ghana and Serbia will be left fighting for the one remaining qualification place but, in a group where anybody can beat everybody on their day, don't be surprised if things don't quite happen the way the betting suggests.


Germany Australia Ghana Serbia
FIFA Ranking 6 21 34 19
Appearances (Last) 16 (2006) 2 (2006) 1 (2006) 1 (2006)
Best result Winner (54, 74, 90) Last 16 (06) QF (50) Group stage (06)
-v- Germany - P2 W0 D0 P1 W0 D0 P2 W0 D0
-v- Australia P2 W2 D0 - P6 W1 D1 P0
-v- Ghana P1 W1 D0 P6 W4 D1 - P0
-v- Serbia P2 W2 D0 P0 P0 -
Coach Joachim Low Pim Verbeek Milan Rajevac Radomir Antic
Star man Michael Ballack Tim Cahill Stephen Appiah Dejan Stankovic
To win Group A
4/5 (1.80) 7/1 (8.00) 4/1 (5.00) 7/2 (4.5)
To lift the cup
12/1 (13.00) 125/1 (126.00) 66/1 (67.00) 66/1 (67.00)


Never count out the Germans

It's so easy to glance at the potential German World Cup squad and rule them out due to a lack of 'superstar' players - do this at your peril. What they lack in an out-and-out star man they make up for in a set of highly polished and professional players pulling in the same direction, trying to add yet another part to the brilliant German legacy.

Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose rarely shine as a partnership for Bayern Munich but it has been a different matter in the famous white of Germany. Every tournament at least one of the pairing can be found in the Golden boot chase and I expect Joachim Low will find a way this to happen once again. Defensively they'll no doubt be as solid as ever with Metzelder and Metersacker holding a consistently tight line.

The tragic loss of goalkeeper Robert Enke hurt the Germans given he was their number one, but it could end up acting as extra inspiration - dangerous news for the field given the way Germany already thrive in the most pressurised situations.


The worst of a good group

Alongside Germany, the Aussies have ensured Group D is a must watch for the patriotic English.

Pim Verbeek's Socceroos found qualification all too easy in the Asian section, surrendering just one goal and missing out on four points in the eight game final round, but they've been handed a far tougher task in South Africa. According to the rankings there isn't much difference between Australia, Serbia or Ghana yet you have to feel, due to a lack of genuine competitive matches, they are the outsiders to make the last 16.

Their big positive is an abundance of Premier League talent with Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton and Lucas Neill all providing vital experience. Scott McDonald has shown enough at Celtic to suggest he can score at the top level yet it hasn't happened for his country - it's essential for Australia that it clicks or it's hard to see where the goals will come from.


Africa can shine in South Africa

The World Cup heads to Africa for the first time in its 80 year history and many believe the trophy may not leave the continent for at least four years. The Ivory Coast may be the best positioned African team when it comes to the reckoning but Milovan Rajevac's Black Stars certainly can't be ruled out when you look at some of the talent they can put out.

Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan and Stephen Appiah are all world renowned but unfortunately for Ghana their best player Michael Essien has been ruled out of the World Cup. Nevertheless you can forget all the chat about how athletic the modern generation of African footballers are, this Ghana team is full of intelligent players who know how to win games under the guidance of their Serbian manager.

Whether they have enough strength in depth to cover injuries has to be the big concern, especially now Fulham's John Pantsil has been ruled out for the season. Muntari's attitude also could threaten their chances. The former Portsmouth man has talent in abundance but, as his failure to gain an Africa Cup of Nations place shows, he needs to realise his team comes first or else he'll be forced into watching the extravaganza from his sofa, just like the rest of us.



The fewer goals the better

Serbia arrive at the 2010 World Cup as a solo country for the first time in history, but don't expect them to take time to adjust. They were superb throughout European qualification as they took a hold of their group early and forced France into the play-off round and they'll definitely fancy themselves to progress through the group phase in South Africa.

Coach Antic's plan has been simple and that will remain constant through the tournament, keep it tight and hope to nick a goal on the break. It's a plan that worked wonders for Greece in the 2004 European Championships and they didn't have players that even come close to the calibre of Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic or Dejan Stankovic.

Unlike Ghana they have the benefit of all their players aiming for the same outcome and that understanding really can't be underestimated. Their biggest weakness is the forward line with giant Valencia man Nikola Zigic posing the biggest threat but it isn't likely to strike fear into the hearts of their competitors. You have to believe that the likes of Stankovic and Man Utd youngster Zoran Tosic need to have big tournaments or they could just be firing blanks for three games.



This website is not associated, affiliated or connected in any way with FIFA, the World Cup 2010 Local Organising Committee, or the South African Football Association.


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