World Cup ‘10 – Group D: The Group Of Table Toppers

With the biggest show on the planet around the corner,  TheHardTackle brings to you a special series that provides you with group-wise capsules of information on each nation. No more hiding away from discussions and debates, we promise to make you a World Cup scholar before the showcase event begins. The world is getting ready, are you?


Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana


Rank: 8
Best Performance: Winners 1954, ’74, ’90
Coach: Joachim Löew

There is something about Germany and world cups. Traditionally, they always do well on the biggest stage of world football. Only Brazil and Italy can boast of a better world cup record than Germany’s three world cup wins. They have also been runners-up four times, and reached the semi-finals a record eleven times in their sixteen appearances in the mega event. After finishing third on home soil in 2006, where they beat Argentina on their way, and picking up a runners-up medal in Euro 2008, the Germans are definitely up with the best teams in Africa, and will be looking to win their fourth title!

Qualifying campaign

Germany went unbeaten during the qualifying campaign, topping their group with eight wins and two draws. They pulled off wins, both home and away, in crucial encounters against second-placed Russia. The campaign was smooth for Germany, with the likes of Finland and Wales not posing much of a threat.


That famous ‘German efficiency’ will come into the picture yet again at this year’s tournament. Over the years, German teams have been well-renowned for their discipline, organization and a knack of getting the job done. Only Spain and England bettered their goal-difference, which was boosted by a rock-solid defense. The side conceded only five goals in ten qualifying matches. Experienced defenders like Philip Lahm, Arne Friedrich and Per Mertesacker provide the stability for the Germans to knick crucial wins. Germany lacks the talent to set the world alight, but compensate tactically on the field.

Sports News - May 14, 2010
‘German efficiency’ is a real weapon


Unlike every world cup winning team, the Germans do not possess that one ‘flair’ player; a player who could turn the game on its head and produce magic from nowhere. This is where they miss out in comparison to other nations such as Brazil, Spain and Argentina. The closest player to match such a description is Michael Ballack, who is the anchor of their midfield. But an injury in the final match of his club campaign means the Germans will be missing their captain, their general and their most skillful midfielder, which is a major blow to Germany’s hopes!

TheHardTackle’s  Player To Watch Out:
Miroslav Klose (Forward)
The German striker has a knack of scoring World Cup goals, and is still Germany’s best striker. He is a typical goal poacher, who will always be in and around the penalty area to sneak in a couple of goals. Another player to watch out for is youngster Thomas Muller.  The growth of this young twenty-one year old has been phenomenal. An integral part of Bayern Munich’s successful European campaign, Muller could be the star that burdens Germany’s hopes.



Rank: 20
Best Performance: Round of 16 in 2006
Coach: Pim Verbeek

After a 32-year long absence from the world scene, the Socceroos are well and truly a regular nation in the big event. Under Guus Hiddink, Australia produced wonderful performances in the last World Cup, which included a brilliant win against Japan. They also put up a hefty challenge against eventual champions Italy, but were controversially beaten via a last minute penalty. Since then, they have shifted from the Oceania zone to the Asian zone in search of greater competition. Competing in Asia has made the ‘Men in Gold’ stronger, results of which might be seen in Africa.

Qualifying campaign

Australia’s first Asian qualifying venture was expected to be an uneasy test. However, they proved everyone wrong by finishing top in stage one, ahead of China and Iraq and finishing five points clear of Asian giants Japan at the top of their group in stage two, to book their place in the mega event. On their way to South Africa, they picked up wins at Uzbekistan and Bahrain and also beat Japan at home.


All Australian professional teams in any sport breathe professionalism and discipline. The style of Australia’s play may not be pretty, but it is well modified according to the talent at their disposal. The team spirit and the awareness of each other’s game is the biggest strength of this team, which can be inferred by looking at their defensive record itself. The Socceroos conceded an astonishing one goal in eight qualifying matches.

Australian Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is also one of the best around as he proved this season with Fulham. His experience when it comes to the big stage could be vital.


Lack of top quality strikers is a big weak point in the Australian squad. In Germany, Mark Viduka’s hold-up play was the centre of all their attacks, and the likes of Kennedy may not be able to match it. Another weakness is a lack of pace throughout the team. Australian attacks have always built up slowly and patiently but at the top-level, one might need more speed.

Australian soccer player Cahill smiles as he signs his autograph at a publicity event in Sydney

Head Timmy head!

TheHardTackle’s  Player To Watch Out:
Tim Cahill (Midfielder)
One of the best midfielders in the English Premier League, Cahill has a knack of popping in crucial unmarked positions to score. His heading abilities are one of the best in the world, and must be exploited by Australian coach Verbeek.



Rank: 16
Best Performance: First Appearance as ‘Serbia’
Coach: Radomir Antic

This is Serbia’s first appearance as an independent nation, and a chance for them to make a good first entry in their World Cup record books. Serbia and Montenegro appeared in Germany’06 but were very unlucky to be placed in the toughest group of the competition – against Argentina, Netherlands and the Ivory Coast.

Qualifying campaign

Serbia topped the group, finishing one point ahead of France and a massive seven ahead of Austria. On their way to South Africa, they thrashed Romania 5-0 but could not beat a struggling French side.


Serbia’s strength is in the defense. Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic form a part of a back line which has seen Serbia secure crucial victories throughout their campaign. The midfield consisting of Milos Krasic and Liverpool’s new recruit Milan Jovanovic are a threat to opposing sides as well.


The lack of a top quality striker is Serbia’s biggest issue. Huge target man Nikola Zigic may cause a lot of problems, but he can fade away in matches – similar to England’s Peter Crouch.

File photo of Serbia's Krasic and Pantelic celebrating a second goal against Lithuania in Belgrade
Krasic is Serbia’s showman!

TheHardTackle’s  Player To Watch Out:
Milos Krasic (Midfielder)
Electrifying is the best word to describe this midfielder. Give him the ball and the Serbian crowd’s level of expectations rises. Pace, precision and brilliant crossing ability could see him do well in Africa.



Rank: 32
Best Performance: Round of 16 in 2006
Coach: Milovan Rajevac

Four years ago, Ghana impressed the world in Germany by beating Czech Republic and USA to qualify for the knockout stages. The Ghanaians will be looking to go further this time around in their home continent, in conditions better suited to them.

Qualifying campaign

Ghana qualified for the World Cup before any other African team, after securing four consecutive wins in their opening matches in the final group stage. They did not conceded a single goal in those four matches. They were pitted against Benin, Mali and Sudan.


With the likes of Chelsea’s Michael Essien and Inter’s Sulley Muntari marshaling the Ghanaian ranks, their midfield is their strength. The defense shielded with this midfield makes up a strong back-line which does not concede too many.


This World Cup group lacks quality strikers in three of the four teams. So, even though Ghana does not possess a top-quality striker, it may not be a necessary requirement to see them through this group. Another weak point is the amount of playing action which Essien saw this season due to injury. Ghana needs it’s main man to be well prepared for this tournament.

File photo of Essien of Ghana controlling ball during opening match against Guinea in African Nations Cup soccer tournament in Accra
Essien – every nation’s desire!

TheHardTackle’s  Player To Watch Out:
Michael Essien (Midfielder)
The all-action central midfielder is one of the topmost midfielders in the world and an asset to any team he plays in. Brute strength, great ability on the ball and wonderful shooting ability are some of the features of this fabulous football player.



Match Date – Time Venue Team 1
Team 2
7 12/06 16:00 Durban Germany v Australia
8 12/06 13:30 Tshwane/Pretoria Serbia v Ghana
21 17/06 16:00 Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth Germany v Serbia
24 17/06 13:30 Rustenburg Ghana v Australia
39 22/06 20:30 Johannesburg – JSC Ghana v Germany
40 22/06 20:30 Nelspruit Australia v Serbia

While the ‘Group of Death’ is a tough fight between three teams with the last place almost certainly going to DPR Korea, this group is a fight between all four teams, who topped their respective qualifying campaigns.

Though Germany is unlikely to miss out on the two spots, predicting one of Australia, Ghana and Serbia to go through is close to impossible. While Australia topped a tough Asian campaign finishing ahead of Japan, Ghana secured first place in a competitive African campaign and Serbia pipped France to top spot in Europe.

TheHardTackle feels a couple of late goals will decide tight matches in this tough group. Any team which picks up points against Germany will be strong contenders to make it to the Round of 16.

TheHardTackle’s VERDICT:

1. Germany
2. Australia
3. Ghana
4. Serbia

It’s too close to call between Ghana and Australia, but we predict Australia to pick up point(s) against a possibly rusty Germany in the first game. This is definitely a group to look forward to.

This is the most open group and it doesn’t get tighter than this!


  • kripky

    Serbia to finish last? I have a feeling they might even top the group. They have one of the best defences in Europe. Lets wait and watch!

  • Somnath

    Serbia are my dark horse for this WC. They have 4 in-form defenders – Ivanovic, Vidic, Subotic & Kolarov. Krasic & Jovanovic are two excellent wingers, even Tosic is coming off an great season. Pantelic scored a few goals for Ajax this season.

  • redNblack_blood

    thr is going to be a big fight for 2 place in this group. Germany will top the group in an ideal situation but nothing can be said about the crucial 2nd qualifying spot

  • Becks’Balls

    This will be a fantastic group! Can’t wait for this to unfold. Serbia won’t be last, but you can’t bet against Ghana and Australia either? What a toughie!

  • Namaste, I hope to be this big of help myself someday

  • Si02

    The prediction looks like it’s coming right. Serbia just lost to Ghana. This one’s a tough group. Who would’ve thought a team boasting Vidic, Ivanovic and Krasic would find themselves in trouble, so early in the tournament?

  • Whoa I’m stunned Ghana pulled off the win, the first African country to win in Africa!