Group D is a very interesting group. It’s wide open if you’re of the belief that the German team has seen better days. And, as I am of that belief, there are three teams that could be vying for two spots in the second round, all with as good a chance as any.
Even the bookies thing it’s quite open, with the Germans just shades of odds-on to win the group, whereas Germany of old in a group featuring Ghana, Australia and Serbia would be a lot, lot shorter. I don’t think any of the games in the group will be relatively exciting and I think it will be a low scoring group, but don’t let that stop you from having a bet on it, as there’s some good value to be had there.
Australia: Two defeats in qualifying and it’s proof that the new qualification route for Australia has been a good thing. They aren’t a strong team on the world stage, but for Asia, they are almost a super power. They managed to make the second round last year with an unspectacular team and, judging by the group they’re in, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made it through. However, I can’t see it happening, simply because they’re not a team where goals will come. They will have to get past three very well disciplined defenses and the lack of a great goalscorer might prove costly. Everton’s Tim Cahill has come onto some great form in the last couple of years and he could be the crucial player in a team that will need someone to stand up and be counted. But they’ll be lucky to win a match, in my humble opinion.
Germany: Undefeated in qualifying was proof the Germans are still a strong side, even if they don’t have the caliber of players that they once had. There’s no Gerd Muller, there’s no Franz Beckenbauer, obviously, but sadly for the Germans, there’s no Michael Ballack. He will be a huge loss to the Germans and one that they might struggle to cope with against two very bruising teams in the shape of Ghana and Serbia. They still play quite an attractive game, but it might be stifled by the tactics of a team like Ghana without someone like Ballack to take the game by the scruff of the neck. They SHOULD qualify, but at ridiculously short odds, there are a lot better bets out there in what is undoubtedly a tricky group, as the top three teams are roughly on the same level.
Ghana: An African version of Germany? Well, the loss of Michael Essien seemed to indicate that. The key player to the Ghana plan was ruled out at the end of May and it could hurt them hard. However, they have a European Cup winner in the shape of Sulley Muntari to help guide them through in their home continent. Playing in Africa will suit this team down to the ground and they should be there or there abouts come the final stages of the group. They play a very physical style, like most African teams and they’ll need to use that to their advantage when taking on the powerhouse of Serbia, as well as the quick, sexy football of Germany. Two defeats in qualifying and the managed to top their relatively easy group, but they did what they had to do. They’ll be players in this group and one to keep an eye on.
Serbia: Serbia’s first tournament without Montenegro by their side and they qualified in style, topping a group containing France, Romania and Austria. A draw with France at home was perhaps the highlight of qualifying for a team that although lacks one star player, has class players littered throughout the team, with Nemanja Vidic and Dejan Stankovic playing important roles for the team. They’re a physical team, a VERY physical team and are really not too attractive to watch, just like the rest of their Group D opposition. They will prove a tough team to break down, but will be dangerous in front of goal, with the giant Nikola Zigic up front, all 6’8” of him. They will be a match for Germany and Ghana and don’t be surprised to see them top the group, or at least qualify.
A tough, tough group to predict and I don’t see the Germans having it as easy as the bookies think they will. Germany and Serbia are both odds-on to qualify from the group, so the value might like in Ghana to qualify. They haven’t had a great build-up to the tournament, stuttering to some uneasy wins and a heavy defeat to the Dutch, but it’s a young team that are always improving. Add to this that Serbia have had the same problems, losing to New Zealand and Australia being also-rans in the group, Ghana might just have enough to nick it. The Germans have had a good build-up, winning their last three matches comfortably, but it was against mid-level European teams and they have yet to face an African team, so Ghana might pose a threat to them on that level.
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