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Sunday, June 13, 2010

GERMANY vs AUSTRALIA >>> Match Previews

Germany may have restored some international pride four years ago as they reached the semi-finals on home soil, but the perception of Germany as one of the pre-tournament favourites is a thing of the past.

The loss of Michael Ballack to an ankle injury, thanks to a late tackle from the German-born Kevin-Prince Boateng in the FA Cup final last month, meant coach Joachim Low effectively had to rip up his plans for South Africa and start again. The Germany captain was the fulcrum of the team both on and off the pitch, and the loss of such an inspirational figure is hard to cope with at such a late stage. Replacing the experienced 33-year-old Ballack with a 21-year-old international rookie in Mesut Ozil is a risk, but it could be a master-stroke if Ozil adapts to the pace of the World Cup quickly.

Much will rest on the shoulders of new captain Phillip Lahm, while Bastian Schweinsteiger will become the lynchpin of the midfield, allowing Ozil to push on in search of goals and become the key to open up Australia's defence.

With Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose woefully short of form, Germany may have to rely on their defence performing well to reach the latter stages. There's certainly no reason why Australia should not go into the game with some confidence.

Australia's main worry is a lack of depth to their squad and any striker worthy of the name. With Harry Kewell struggling with injury and and Scott McDonald surprisingly left at home, coach Pim Verbeek is left to rely on the untried Nikita Rukavytsya, Brett Holman for Joshua Kennedy goals.

With the Australia squad ageing, the athleticism and drive which the side possessed under Guus Hiddink four years ago could be missing, and without that the Socceroos will become a very one-dimensional side. And the threadbare nature of Verbeek's squad also makes any Plan B difficult to execute.

Brett Emerton and Mark Bresciano will look to add creativity and width for Australia but without a focal point for the attacks it could be that they too find themselves sitting deeper than they would like. This may especially be the case for Emerton who now plays as a right-back for his club, Blackburn Rovers.

Germany player in focus: Mesut Ozil. The loss of Michael Ballack to injury means Ozil will come into the side and get the chance to make his mark on the World Cup earlier than he would have expected. The Werder Bremen midfielder was a central figure in the Germany team which won the European Under-21 Championships last year and, with just 10 international caps to his name, now gets the chance on the biggest of stages. A player with a cultured left foot, his lack of consistency could be Germany's downfall.

Australia player in focus: Tim Cahill.

While it might be obvious to say that the threat of Cahill from set-pieces will be no surprise to the German defence, his ability to lose his marker time and again in the Premier League proves that even the best prepared teams struggle to deal with his threat. With a dearth of attacking options open to Pim Verbeek, he will rely on Cahill's heading prowess to help power the Socceroos through to the Second Round for the second successive finals. With 20 goals in 40 international appearances, Cahill is more prolific than any of the nation's current strikers.

Key battle: Lucas Neill v Miroslav Klose

Klose may only be behind Gerd Muller in goalscoring for Germany, but the 2009-10 season was one to forget for the Bayern Munich striker. After scoring only three goals all season, Klose was woeful in Germany's warm-up games. But coach Joachim Low has thrown his support behind Klose, a proven and dangerous tournament performance. Despite his recent woes, his bustling style will mean Lucas Neill will need to be on his toes at the heart of the Australia defence. An out-of-sorts Klose is still more troublesome than most of the strikers at the World Cup.

Trivia: Australia scored the most goals in any World Cup qualifier after beating American Samoa 31-0 in 2001.
Stats: Germany's Miroslav Klose has scored 48 goals in 96 games for Germany, but he managed just three in the league for his club this season.


The Socceroos aren't the same as those under Guus Hiddink. Players like Brett Emerton & Lucas Neill are past their prime and the youngsters may have the enthusiam but certainly not the experience to overcome an energetic new breed of Germans who are trying to fill the boots og Klose and Schweinsteiger.

While the Aussies seems to have bigger scoring problems than their counterparts, the German frontline led by the experienced Podolski may just do enough to nick this one.


Take Germany to win NO HANDICAP

@ Fixed Odds 1.57


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