It is hard to see the neutrals counting down the minutes until kickoff for any other reason than the game signals the start of the tournament at the stunning FIFA World Cup Stadium in Munich.

However, while other matches may attract more attention the hosts would do well to remember the fate of the French in the last World Cup, after they were beaten by an unfancied Senegal in their opening game and failed to progress from the group stages.

Germany suffered a setback yesterday when they lost captain Michael Ballack for the match after he succumbed to a calf injury.

"It seems that Michael Ballack can not play against Costa Rica,"  Jurgen Klinsmann, German coach, said at a press conference.

"He only trained for 30 minutes on Wednesday and then had to pull out.

Midfielders Tim Borowski and Sebastian Kehl are likely to battle for the newly vacant spot.


Germany is looking to ride a wave
of host nation support

Despite the loss of the talisman the Germans will see the game as the perfect way to bring their home ground advantage into calculation. Coach Klinsman has made his enthusiasm for the game clear.

"We are very hungry for this opening match against Costa Rica. The fans, the players and myself all just want the tournament to start," Klinsmann said in a recent press conference.

"It is the same at every World Cup we talk down our chances but after the first few matches everyone jumps on the bandwagon and we ride the wave.

"I hope we can get the fans behind us early on with a win over Costa Rica."


After two years without a competitive match and plenty of critics ready to write off their chances Germany will be keen to start things with a bang.

Costa Rican fans dare to dream

While few are expecting Costa Rica to offer much opposition for the Germans, Los Ticos will no doubt have their own goal of bettering the 1990 effort of making the last 16.

Coach Alexandre Guimaraes draws most of his squad – who finished third in the CONCACAF qualifiers-  from the domestic league and eight members ply their trade with 'The Purple Monster' Deportivo Saprissa, the local juggernaut.

Should they cause a boil over the Costa Ricans will certainly be the stuff of nightmares for the German public.