Germany’s lack of Ballack is great news for Socceroos
One thing we've learned from all the past World Cups is Germany can never be ruled out, nevertheless the absence of their inspirational captain Michael Ballack gives reason to believe Australia may have stumbled across a high profile lame duck.
Ballack's injury, inflicted by Kevin Prince Boateng in the FA Cup final, is a tough blow to swallow for the Germans given the lack of genuine world class talent within their ranks.
The Chelsea man was their leader, heartbeat and big name. He was the one man in the middle who had been there and done it and if Germany had serious ambitions then he was essential - a major rethink is needed.
Pim Verbeek's Socceroos, playing in their second successive World Cup, head to South Africa a bit short on confidence after a non-too impressive qualifying campaign that saw them barely squeeze past the likes of Indonesia and Oman.
The big positive for them though is that their talismanic midfielder, Tim Cahill, isn't only on the plane he's also been in terrific form for the national side.
It seemed every time Australia looked under pressure the big Everton man would pop up and carry an entire nation on his shoulders, it's a job he'll need to get accustomed to if his side are going to progress to the second round in South Africa.
The truth is Australia lack strike options and it could be a huge problem for them at this year's tournament.
Former Celtic man Scott McDonald was deemed unworthy of a place meaning Verbeek's options up front consist of Josh Kennedy and Nikita Rukavystya - both of whom I'm guessing nobody in England have really heard of.
Cahill is the automatic first choice on the team-sheet and will be given free rein to get forward, he just isn't a natural striker and doesn't naturally have the ability to consistently beat the likes of Per Mertesacker in the German defence - goals will be a problem.
Luckily they are strong at the back though and it could come down to whether Germany have the ability to unlock the door - ironically the job Ballack thrives on in national colours.
Miroslav Klose, a potentially great 33/1 top goalscorer shot, will start up top and as he has shown all too many times he thrives every time a big international competition is around.
For Bayern Munich he's terrible, for Germany he's unbelievable which means that you can still get a great 10/3 about him netting the first goal of the game in this crunch group D clash.
However, I wouldn't be going crazy on goalscorer bets, I'd much prefer to be talking about potential correct scores with pretty much anything low scoring catching my eye.
My favourite is the 13/2 about a 1-1 draw, although I may find myself backing the Germany 1-0 at 5/1 and Australia 1-0 at 11/1 just to cover myself in a game that's screaming out for someone to come out and grab it by the scruff of the neck.
Obviously the Germans with all their experience start as big favourites but, for me, they represent no value whatsoever at a meagre 4/9 with Australia to win looking the interesting side to back at 5/1.
The Socceroos may not have the firepower but they do have a winning mentality, not that I need to tell any English follower of cricket, rugby etc. that.
People will look at their scrappy qualification and write them off too easily without considering a large part of the squad was intact in Germany in 2006, the same squad that saw Australia progress through the first round for the first time in their history.
They might not be pretty but they're effective and it may be that in a group with low scoring Serbia and the inconsistent Ghanaians they could just squeeze through - and who knows Germany's lack of Ballack may see a huge first game round shock.