Friday, December 11, 2009

Between a Rock, a Merc and a Hard place (Aus WC Group)

1The groups have been drawn and now Australia must set out on a difficult journey. A journey to beat Germany, Serbia and Ghana. In this article I’ll assess each team, before analysing Australia’s chance of progressing to the next stage of the World Cup.


The German National Football team, currently ranked 6th in the World by FIFA, will be Australia’s first target in the 2010 World Cup. Our opening game, on the 13th of June, will see the Socceroos facing off against arguably the toughest first round opponents, the Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft. Germany has won 3 World Cups and has appeared at the World Cup no less than 6 times (Germany that is, not East or West), and will probably see Australia as a beatable team. While there is no denying the strength of the Germans (their FIFA ranking pretty much says it all), I can still see Australia getting a point from the encounter.

The Australia v Germany game will be Australia’s first game of the World Cup, and we will really be up for the game. Despite Germany’s class, if Australia can defend well and hit fast on the counter, we could be a real threat to their defence. Like their next door neighbours the Dutch, the German side lacks a real game winning star (and really pride themselves on being a real ‘team’), and if Mario Gomez is off his game a strong defence could really limit the Germans.


While the Germans are a team which prides themselves on being stronger than the whole of its part, the individual talent of some of the team is still undeniable. Key players for Germany are Mario Gómez (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Michael Ballack (Chelsea) and young star Mesut Özil (Werder Bremen).

Despite this talent, I’m still confident Australia can get a point off Germany, probably a 1 all.


The Ghanaian national football team, also known as the Black Stars, is the second team Australia will face in South Africa. It will be only Ghana’s second appearance in the prestigious tournament, and in 2006 they lost to Brazil in the round of 16.


While FIFA rankings would suggest Australia should comfortably win this game (Ghana is ranked 37th to our 21st), I highly doubt that will be the case. Ghana have a strong team, with a stellar midfield, and their physical presence may affect us. Interestingly, Australia played Ghana in a friendly in 2006, and drew 1 all (at a time when Ghana were managed by none other than Claude Le Roy, the current Oman manager who had an incident with the Australian team manager earlier this year).

The Black Stars topped their CAF qualifying group and will certainly be no pushovers. Ghana does however suffer from having a few stars, and then many, much poorer, fringe players. A star midfield which includes the likes of Michael Essien (Chelsea), Sulley Muntari (Inter), and Steven Appiah (Bologna) is let down by a rather mediocre forward line.

Australia will take on Ghana on the 19th of June, in what is certain to be a vital game. Given the strength of Germany and Serbia, it is crucial that Australia take all three points from Ghana. Despite the Black Stars impressive midfield, I think Australia should still be able to take the game, as our two holding midfielders should be able to neutralise the attacking element of their midfield, while Kennedy and Timmy Cahill cause problems down the other end.



The Serbian national team, or the White Eagles, will be Australia’s final group stage opponent, in what could be the deciding game in terms of progressing through to the next round. Even if the other results go our way, it is still likely Australia will need a point against Serbia on the 23rd of June, a point which will be very difficult to obtain.

Serbia qualified for the World Cup by getting past France in their UEFA qualifying group and securing first place. However Serbia failed to take down France, drawing and then losing to Les Bleus, and only held on to first place because of the ineptitude of Raymond Domenech. However, the cold hard truth is that Serbia are a quality team.

A great defence, featuring Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Neven Subotić (Borussia Dortmund) and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanović, combined with a solid midfield with the likes of Dejan Stanković (Inter) Miloš Krasić (CSKA Moscow) and Zdravko Kuzmanović (Stuttgart) forms the basis of a solid Serbian side. However, the team is let down by no quality goalkeeper and a lack of options up front.

Despite their strengths, I still believe Australia can get a point against Serbia. FIFA rankings put us almost on par with Serbia (20th to our 21st), and while this may not always be the greatest measure of a team’s quality, it certainly shows that we should be able to go toe to toe with them. While Germany may be the higher ranked team, I can actually see Serbia causing us more problems (Yer, I’m crazy). Their solid defence will be almost impossible to get past, while their midfield will certainly cause us problems at the back. Despite this, I think Serbia’s lack of star forwards could turn this game into a nil all, with neither team able to break down the opposition’s defence.

So…are we going through or not?

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a total idiot? Let me know by commenting!

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