FIFA World Cup 2010: German Squad Faces a Real Challenge Against Serbia

Mark McAdamContributor IIJune 17, 2010

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 13:  Joachim Loew head coach of Germany watches his team during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Germany and Australia at Durban Stadium on June 13, 2010 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

There was much reason for German euphoria following the impressive 4-0 victory over Australia on Sunday.

Indeed, while top tier teams Brazil, Spain, France, England and Italy have failed to impress, the Germans are now considered serious contenders for the trophy.

And unmistakably so.

The DFB-Elf has played the most efficient, cohesive and tactically skilled football of any team. As a friend recently put it, “Germany played like the gods against Australia.”

Even more striking is Germany’s divine feat in spite of the absence of their captain. Many pundits wondered whether Germany could perform without the injured Michael Ballack. Michael who? That seems like the more appropriate question now.

Indeed, one of Germany’s strengths is its team mentality. Whereas every non-German associated Ballack with German football before the tournament, they now recognize der Star ist die Mannschaft.

The team is the star.

Nevertheless, in midst of all the current euphoria, there is reason for caution before Friday’s match against Serbia.

For one, the Serbs have nothing to lose. They cannot allow for defeat if they are to retain hopes of advancing to the round of 16. The future of their tournament depends on this life-or-death match.

Second, expect weather and poor pitch conditions to be a factor. German passing and technical finesse may prove far more difficult than against Australia.

Third, week two matches have proven difficult for German squads in recent history. In the past six tournaments, even when Germany began well, they were only able to squeak to victory once.

That narrow, last-minute 1-0 victory over Poland in the World Cup four years ago is contrasted over and against a 2-1 loss against Croatia in 2008, a 0-0 draw against Latvia in 2004, a 1-1 against Ireland in 2002, a 1-0 defeat against England in 2000, and a 2-2 tie against Yugoslavia in 1998.

Hopes are high for this German team—both for the match against Serbia and for the rest of the tournament. But don’t expect another blowout—be prepared for a hotly contested match.

The Serbs may even dampen German euphoria with tomorrow’s match. But let fans not forget that current exhilaration is only temporary—jubilation following July 11th lasts much longer.