Group D Preview: Germany is a Perennial Favorite, but Watch Out for Serbia
Group D is one of the deepest draws in the field, with four clubs that appeared absolutely dominant during World Cup qualifying. Germany, however, still stands out as the group’s favorite despite the injury to star attacker Michael Ballack. The Germans always seem to advance deep into the Cup, and remain one of the toughest outs every year, which means we would be shocked to see them fall victim in the group stage. While the battle for the other qualifying spot from Group D is closely contested, the smart money lies on Serbia, who boasts a defensive unit headed by all-world defender Nemanja Vidic. They should be as tough to score on as any side in the field, and timely scoring from Dejan Stankovic might be enough to propel them into the Round of 16.
Ghana breezed through African qualification, and looked poised to make a second straight trip into the knockout round. That was until Chelsea superstar Michael Essien‘s injury, which puts Ghana’s chances in serious jeopardy against a stout group. Australia advanced deep into the 2006 World Cup and breezed through their qualifying stages as well. This team is a little bit different than the one that dazzled in 2006, but with stalwarts like Tim Cahill and goalie Max Schwarzer remaining, they could give any team in this group a run for their money on any given day.
Germany‘s chances at winning the whole tournament took a serious setback with Ballack’s injury, but they still remain one of the most formidable teams in the field. Well versed in winning during the World Cup, Germany’s rough-and-tumble style is usually unbearable to play against in the knockout round. With timely attacking provided by Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Germans will still be a tough out for any team they face in South Africa. A matchup with eighteen England or the United States likely awaits them in the Round of 16, and both of those clubs would be expected to play a tight game with the Germans. Always tough to count out, this doesn’t appear to be the Germans’ year, and I’m not sure we’ll see them playing deep in this year’s tournament.
Serbia is a team that could be poised to make a shockingly deep run in this year’s tournament. Their defense is world renowned, with defenders hailing from some of the world’s top clubs, such as Manchester United and Chelsea. They certainly have the individual pedigree, but the Serbs also have the national track record that we like to look for in a sleeper. They have been a stalwart in the World Cup field, and had a very successful run in qualifying. Look for them to advance from Group B and potentially make some noise all the way to the Quarters.
Player to Watch
Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic is probably the group’s best player, but the guy that we want to keep an eye on is Australia’s Tim Cahill. Cahill almost always seems to find the scoresheet during international play, and the Everton midfielder has been hot. He scored a goal in Aussie’s final friendly against the USA, and his scoring punch could potentially lift Australia into the knockout round for the second straight year. We can safely say that no nation’s fortune in this group rests as heavily on the success of one player, so our eyes will be glued to Cahill.
This group boasts some of the field’s top sleeper picks in South Africa, so if your gut gives you strong feelings for any of them, I suggest pulling the trigger. Here are some lines that I’ll be tempted to throw down on:
Ghana 2/3 to be eliminated in the Group Stage
Serbia +275 to win Group D
Under 14.5 -120 the amount of goals scored during Group D play