by Michael Cree
Germany enters the tournament with some real challenges. Can a strong Serbian team capitalize on their weaknesses? Guest blogger Michael Cree makes the call. For more in-depth coverage of the World Cup, go to BBC.com/sport. – KW
Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana
Historically strong, Germany will go into this World Cup without their highly influential captain, Michael Ballack. Injured in the run-up to the tournament, the Germans will be much weaker but remain the overwhelming favorite to top the group and qualify for the next round. Ghana, meanwhile, were also dealt a massive blow recently, losing star-player and Ballack’s Chelsea teammate, Michael Essien, to injury. Unlike the Germans, with Essien out, Ghana will find it very difficult to finish in the top two.
Serbia will feel very confident about their chances. Led by the brutal central defensive partnership of Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, the Serbs are strong, made evident by their finishing in first place, above France, in European qualification.
Australia will see their game against Serbia as its defining match-up. A good result in that game and the Aussies could have a shot at finishing second behind the Germans. Everton’s Tim Cahill and Galatasaray’s Harry Kewell will pose threats from set-piece situations, but the socceroos may lack the skill and speed to break through. The lack of a top striker will also hamper their chances.