Group D, D for Death….
4 strong teams, every game could go either way. 1 country I used to live in, 1 country I’ve spent a lot of time in and 2 I’ve never been to. Only an idiot would try to predict what will happen…
Australia are unfortunately having a bad time. They lost the Ashes last year and the Twenty20 final this year. Will the possibility of a game against England in the next round spur the Ozzies on? This is an ageing team of talented footballers and maybe I’ve been out of Oz for too long but I don’t see a new generation of footballers that has what it takes to pull up the slack from the older players. The other teams in this group will be too good for Australia.
Like Gary Lineker said, “Football is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball… and Germany always win”. In contrast to Australia the Germans have already won big this year and go into the tournament on a high. Can they achieve a historic Eurovision/Weltmeisterschaft double? The German captain Michael Ballack won’t play due to a bad tackle from Ghana’s Kevin Prince-Boateng (who will play in the World Cup) in the FA Cup Final, so at least the Ballack-jinx can’t be blamed this year. Bayern München did make it to the Champions League final with a team of some talented young Germans and some outstanding foreigners. Bastien Schweinsteiger had a great season and could make a big impression on this tournament. Germany finished top of their qualifying group winning 8 and losing 0. They will make out of this group.
Ghana are another team missing their best player, Ballack’s Chelsea teammate, Michael Essien. Essien is an immense player and will be a bigger loss to Ghana than Ballack will be to Germany, and the World Cup will be worse without him in it. That said Ghana have a great team of talented, powerful players like Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari, who enjoyed great success with Inter this season. Ghana won their qualifying group and I think will be too good to not make it into the next round.
It is hard to say that Serbia won’t qualify. They have some excellent players in Vidic, Stankovic, Ivanovic plus 6ft 8 Nikola Zigic and finished top of their qualifying group, above France. They will be strong defensively and well organised but I don’t know if they will be able to score enough against the other big teams in this group. They are undoubtedly a quality team but ultimately I think not good enough to go through.
So this is really hard to call and will probably end up being totally wrong but I think it’s Germany and Ghana to qualify and it’s bad luck for Serbia and Australia in ending up in this group in the first place….