My preview is going to start with Group D.
The top team far and away in Group D is Germany. They have three World Cup championships (as West Germany) and reached the finals in four other times, most recently in 2002 when they lost 2-0 to Brazil. To put this dominance in perspective the combined number of times that any of the other three teams in the field finished in the top five is exactly 0 times. Most will think this is a once sided group and for the most part they are going to be right.
One of these other teams will make the final 16 and of the other three teams it should be a good group to watch as they all can play some decent soccer so we aren’t going to get a ton of blow out games.
This will be only the third time that Australia has made the World Cup as they also made it the last time in 2006. In 2006 they moved on past the group rounds for the first time ever before being knocked out in the “sweet 16”. A lot of the Australian players are playing in high profile European soccer leagues so that will give this team a lot of experience coming in. European soccer is like nothing else and it has been a league where a lot of American players want to get into in order to take the next step. Keeper Mark Schwarzer will be heavily relied on to carry this Australian team. Schwarzer is the goalkeeper and he is one of the best. Australia is currently ranked 20th in the latest FIFA rankings which I guess could put them on the fringe of that top 16 round. Outside of Schwarzer the Australians will be paced by midfielder Tim Cahill. This is a ball control type team that can’t get out and run, because they just aren’t that talented. Just think of them as the New Jersey Devils type. Average offense so they just bore to death and then capitalize with one of their top players. Once they get a lead they try and squeeze the life out of you.
This is a terrible idea. But very funny. "What were you thinking?" "Uh, I wasn't really"
Germany is pretty much considered a lock to win the group and move on, and have success, in the round of 16. They are currently ranked sixth in the FIFA world rankings and for good reason. Germany has been to the World Cup finals seven times and won the whole thing three times. One preview actually said “Given the other teams in the group, Germany would have to get lost on the way to South Africa to fail to qualify for the knockout stages.” Huh, that seems like they have a pretty decent chance of moving on. Team Germany took a huge loss when they lost captain Michael Ballack to some torn knee ligaments on May 15. Never good when you lose your captain. It has been since 1978 since Germany hasn’t made the quarters so the notions that they would have to get lost is a good one. Miroslav Klose is the German’s top player and he is going to get the goal when Germany needs it.
Word just in that Hitler will not suit up for Germany. He is still not over the Dany Heatley situation. That is a big loss for the Germans. Hitler, from all word I am hearing, was a pretty big deal.
Most people look at the name of countries and pretty much have a dead set thought on if they have a chance to win. Ghana sounds more like an STD you might get after that one night with a girl you don’t know the name to rather than a World Cup soccer team. That may or may not be the case. Just sayin. Ghana actually is a pretty decently talented team. No, for real. In 2006 they made it to the round of 16 before getting knocked out and they made a fairly decent run in the African Cup of Nations where they reached the finals.
Just like with a ton of others teams in this field the infirmary cost them a top notch player. Michael Essien will be out for the entire World Cup. Essien makes that team click and for a team that relies so heavily on team play this is going to be a huge loss. Defender John Mensah and keeper Richard Kingson both are dinged up, but should play. Can you imagine missing your top overall player, top d-man and top goaltender. The Penguins did that when Fleury and Bing went down but they still had Scuds and Orpik and it wasn’t during the Cup Finals.
Ghana comes in 32nd in the FIFA rankings. While most coaches at least wear a suit coat it is more business casual for Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac as he supports the polo. Kinda makes me feel like they are the Hawaii dressing wise. Whatev. $10 says some joke kid sees them play and says to his/her mom or dad “What is Ghana?” Go to history class.
English might not have really made it all the way to Ghana
Serbia has a few fourth place finishes as Yugoslavia in the World Cup, the most recent in 1962. That is a long time ago. Serbia comes in ranked 15th in the FIFA Rankings and is a strong player for the other spot aside Germany to move on to the round of 16.
Nemanja Vidic is one of, if not this best, players on the field at any time. Some say that he could be the best defender in the entire world so needless to say he will be a pretty important player. The Serbian captain, Dejan Stankovic is the team’s captain and top midfielder. The team is relatively healthy so that gives them a leg up on month teams in the tournament.
Fun Fact: 19 of Serbia’s 23 players on the roster have a last name ending in the letters “ic” do with that as you must.
When I went to school we had some Serbia athletes that played for various sports and it was widely regarded as being a little soft and couldn’t really handle the “tough stuff.” It will be pretty interesting to see when the things get tough if they fold. This is a pretty tough group and playing tough is what will get them to the group of 16.
Check out this Serbian dude’s hair and get up:
Cory's Prediction: Germany and Serbia. I think. Who cares, they both suck.
Ian's Prediction: He didn't have one yet. That means this group is mud.
Edit - Ian has a pick. Group is still mud though. Here is Ian's pick: Germany & Ghana. Ghana rides the support of the African crowds to the 2nd round.