FIFA World Cup 2010 Preview: Germany
A powerhouse of modern international football, Germany has won three World Cups, finished runner up four more times, and reached a total of 11 semifinals (more than Brazil) as well as winning the European Championship three times.
Last Time Out
Former striker and fans’ favourite Jürgen Klinsmann took the hosts to the semifinal, where they narrowly lost to eventual champions Italy, beating Argentina along the way.
Joachim Löw—Deputy to Klinsmann in ‘06, Freiburg-born Löw guided the national team to the European Championship final in 2008 where they lost to Spain. A German Cup triumph with VfB Stuttgart in 1997 was the highlight of an unremarkable career as a player. He's unlikely to be seen wearing his trademark scarf in South Africa.
Bastian Schweinsteiger—Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger, already more important than Michael Ballack on the pitch, will need to replace the injured captain as the squad’s leader on and off the field.
Miroslav Klose—Despite a poor return of 25 appearances and only four goals for Bayern this year, Loew has kept faith with Klose due to his outstanding record at major tournaments with Germany. The Polish born striker won the Golden Boot in 2006 and has 48 goals in 94 games for the national team. If he fires again in South Africa, Germany could be a contender yet again
Ones to Watch
Jérôme Boateng—Born in Berlin to a German mother and Ghanian father, the 21-year-old defender has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City. Normally a center back, the powerful, athletic youngster’s pace may earn him a place in the starting line-up. Half brother Kevin Prince-Boateng, whose tackle put Ballack out of the tournament, elected to play for the Black Stars and may face his brother in June.
Holger Badstuber—A revelation for Louis Van Gaal’s Bayern this season, Swabian native Badstuber is uncapped at international level, but his performances in Bayern’s run to the Champions League final may see him earn a place in the first team, where he and Boateng can add much needed youth and pace to the brittle defense exposed by Spain in 2008.
Match 7: Germany vs. Australia 13/6 20.30 (Durban)
Match 21: Germany vs. Serbia 18/6 13.30 (Port Elizabeth)
Match 39: Ghana vs. Germany 23/6 (Johannesburg)
If one of Germany (D) or England (C) win their group and the other finishes runner up, it will set up a mouth-watering early meeting between these old foes in the first knockout round. The more likely prospect is a match between Germany and the USA, probable runners-up to England in Group C.
If Germany make it to the quarterfinal, they will face the winner of a game between the runners up of Group B (Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic and Greece) and the winners of Group A (South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France).
Assuming they progress from a formidable group, Germany will be a difficult prospect for any team they meet in the knockout stages, with only England, Argentina, and France seemingly equipped to prevent them from reaching the semifinals.
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