Sunday, June 6, 2010

World Cup - Germany

You can almost pencil the Germans in for the semi-finals, if not the finals, of every tournament they play in. In the last 20 years they have appeared in three European Championship finals, winning one, and two World Cup finals, winning one. They have also appeared in a World Cup semi-final and two quarter-finals. That is a hell of a record.

Unfortunately, for Germany anyway, the 2010 squad is lacking the talent of previous iterations. Captain Michael Ballack is injured and will not participate in the competition. Joachim Low is one of the best managers at the World Cup, and his job is really spelled out for him. He has to take a mixture of veterans past their prime and youngsters not yet in their's through the "Group of Death" and into at least the quarter-finals.

Miroslav Klose has scored ten goals int he last two World Cups, but he has played little for Bayern Munich this season, and been in poor form when he has played. Mario Gomez has always shown a lot of promise, but has never really looked the part of a goal scoring threat at major tournaments. And Lukas Podolski has only scored three goals all season. It is unlikely that Low will be able to count on these players to score.

Thomas Muller burst onto the scene for Bayern Munich, playing a big part in their run to the Champions League final and scoring 19 goals in all competitions. But he is only 20 years old, and to rely on him this heavily is dangerous, as he may just not be mature enough to handle carrying his team through the World Cup yet.

That leaves one man. If Germany are to be a serious threat in this tournament, Bastian Schweinsteiger must show the form of his life. Luckily, he is coming off the best season of his career. Ballack's creative midfield responsibilities must fall to him.

Germany look as vulnerable as they have since Euro 2000, when they didn't advance out of the group stages. Serbia could win this group if things fall right for them. However, if Germany do get to the knockout stages, they will be organized, direct, and unlikely to lose in a penalty shootout. It would be a huge upset if they didn't get to the quarterfinals, and a mild surprise if they didn't get to the semi-finals.

No comments: