With their deep experience, the German team is almost a lock to move into the knockout round. Having reached the finals of the World Cup seven times—a record they share with Brazil—they have what it takes to win their fourth World Cup.
Team: Die Mannschaft
Colors: White, red, yellow and black
It’s been 72 years since Germany failed to make it out of the group stage. Die Mannschaft (“the team”) is even better equipped than the ’06 squad, which made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champs, Italy.
Unlike the Italians and the English, the German team isn’t filled with star power, but that may actually work in their favor. In club team play, their players see action during every match. But as part of the national team, no one seeks the limelight, because everyone understands his role (even the backups).
Expect two things from the Germans: a stubborn backfield and a midfield that forces play in the offensive zone.
Key Players: Michael Ballack, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose
Team captain Ballack is the quintessential cog that drives the squad up the field. Never one to shy away from contact, he will do whatever it takes to set up his attackers. He’s the key to the German forwards’ success.
With their ability to score from anywhere inside the box, attackers Podolski and Klose can wreak havoc on the defense. Keep an eye on both, because if you watch just one of them, the other will come out of nowhere and score. The best part about it is that neither Podolski nor the ageless Klose cares who’s scoring, as long as the team ends up on top. Their partnership can match the play of any other striking duo in the tourney, including the Spanish and the Brazilians.
Key Matchup: Germany vs. Australia
If anyone can catch the Germans sleeping in the first round, it’s the Socceroos. Both teams are sure to come out swinging in the first half. This must-see game promises lots of huge headers and clean hard tackles.
One outstanding expectation among the team and everyone else: the Germans will make it out of the group.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown