Opponents Watch: Ze Germans

 

Klose's aerial ability will be missed but replaced by Cacau's speed

 

Ich bin very gut must be German for our national team is very good and our opponents know it. Watching the Germans methodically dismiss Bosnia in their final friendly before embarking for South Africa was discomfiting. Down 1-0 at the half to an Edin Dzeko strike, the Germans went into all out attack mode in the second half and scored three unanswered goals. They play a style reminiscent of the 2006  world cup team that placed third on their home soil. Their style is characterized by energy and pace. They have many attacking options and seek to overwhelm the opposition with their outstanding fitness levels. They are not the Germans of old but they are still plenty effective. It’s like comparing the old VW Beetle cars to the new sexier and colorful ones. At the end of the day, regardless of the redesign, they both work well and take you from point A to B. They are Autos!!!

That form in the friendlies was evident in their first game against Australia. The attack was devastating against the  Socceroos where they bagged four goals. It seemed like everything went their way that night from the dismissal of Tim Cahill to the ease of their goals. A more disciplined and cautious Serbia side frustrated the Germans and were rewarded with a 1-0 victory. Of course, the Germans will argue that the loss of Miroslav Klose meant they played a large part of the match with 10 men. Nevertheless, the Serbs showed how to keep the Germans flustered and quiet and reduced their goal scoring chances.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

The following should be closely watched as they are likely to influence the outcome of the match against Ghana. 

Bastian Schweinsteiger has a deadly shot. He has a controlled game and fills Ballack’s role in driving the team forward down the middle. 

Lukas Podolski An enigmatic player who has spent much of the past season rooted to Luis Van Gaal’s bench. He was one of the better players on the last German world cup team. Against Australia, he scored a good goal. He quickly joined the club of the few Germans who have ever missed a penalty by missing one against Serbia. Still, he will be keen to make amends and his speed and running off the ball should be of concern.

Mesut Ozil. The first time I saw him play was in the friendly against Bosnia and he was quite impressive. He has a small frame which doesn’t stop him from running rings around defenders and shooting on sight. 

Cacau is a German with Brazilian roots who plays for Stuttgart and he looks as impressive in his German jersey as for his club. He is due to fill Klose’s starting role against Ghana as he serves his one-match suspension. His incredible speed and quickness will be a challenge to the Ghanaian defenders.  

Michael Ballack’s shoes were thought too big to be filled by one man. Sami Khedira’s performances for Germany have garnered a lot of ink and have made Ballack’s absence inconsequential. Some tipped Khedira to have a strong showing at this world cup. The 23-year old plays with power and disrupts the opponent’s attacks. Watch out for a battle between Khedira and the Ghanaian midfield. 

To keep the Germans in check, Ghana will have to take a page out of Serbia’s discipline and show extra caution when in possession so they do not lose the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch. Given the Germans’ potent offence I would be very surprised if this game ends as a scoreless draw. Nevertheless, with the right combination of commitment, discipline and luck, we should qualify for the second round.

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