The term "Group of Death" is a well worn one, but it is very hard to think of any other term when looking at the physically imposing Group D where Germany, Serbia, Ghana, and Australia will battle it out for supremacy.
Group D: Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
The first of the two groups of death sees the three time winners face an uphill battle to progress. Germany will find it difficult to advance past rivals who all be looking at the same goal.
Germany does not come with the same mystique as previous incarnations but they still possess phenomenal quality. Michael Ballack's loss is a massive blow to Die Mannschaft, more so after Thorsten Frings' refusal to replace the injured captain. Further losses of Christian Traesch and Simon Rolfes to Joachim Loew's side means that for the first time in their history, Germany is taking a team that is more technical than physical to a World Cup.
Add that to the relevant inexperience on show, only three players older than 26, and Germany will have to out think their opponents rather than out battle them. They are only bringing six midfielders to South Africa, and there will be a heavy reliance on Bastian Schweinsteiger to orchestrate the flow of attack and defence.
Another team where Guus Hiddink's shadow remains is Australia. The Socceroos boast a team packed with Premiership talent, and with a superb work ethic to match. A very similar proposition to the US, Australia will also be looking to progress to the knock out stages.
The one thing going against or perhaps for Australia is the squad. It is almost the exact same as the 2006 team that performed so well, a Round of 16 defeat to a dubious penalty against Italy. Their physical approach to the game could really come into play in their opening fixture against Germany before they take on Ghana...
The Black Stars were the first African team to qualify for the World Cup after they sailed through their qualifiers. Ghana's prospects have taken a huge blow since their initial optimism after the draw as Chelsea's Michael Essien was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury that would not have recovered on time.
It leaves Ghana without their only genuine world class talent and makes this particular group practically impossible to travail. Saying that, they did lose Essien in the opening stages of the African Nations in January, the Black Stars still managed to reach the final. However, you would be hard pressed to find any team of their quality in their three opponents in Africa.
Serbia comes into their first World Cup after dominating their qualifying group. They have almost secretly built a team that can boast stars in some of Europe's top teams. While they are a fantastic prospect for a long run in the competition, they might come undone by their international inexperience.
The White Eagles will fancy their chances in this group. They are as physically imposing a team as you would hope to find in international football, and can back it up with some of the best technical players in the tournament. They also possess a manager, Radomir Antic, who is one of the few men to take the hot-seat in not only Real Madrid but Barcelona too.
Winners: Too tough to call but... Germany and Serbia will take the top two positions.
Group D Fixtures:
Match (07) June 13- Germany vs. Australia (Loftus Versfield Stadium, 51,762)
Match (08) June 13- Serbia vs. Ghana (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 70,000)
Match (21) June 18- Germany vs. Serbia (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 48,459)
Match (24) June 19- Ghana vs. Australia (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 44,530)
Match (39) June 23- Ghana vs. Germany (Soccer City, 91,141)
Match (40) June 23- Australia vs. Serbia (Mbombela Stadium, 43,589)
Players To Watch:
Milos Krasic (SER), Mesut Ozil (GER), Kwadwo Asamoah (GHA), Mark Schwarzer (AUS)
Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer may have been born in Sydney but his parents are German and he has played for Dynamo Dresden and Kaiserslautern.
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This article was first published on Tiger Beer Football where Willie Gannon is the featured blogger.
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