|Miroslav Klose will look to provide the firepower of a disciplined Germany side [GALLO/GETTY]|
It is hard to spot an easy fixture in Group D, with consistent achievers Germany facing the confident Australians, a proud new Serbia side and a disciplined Ghana team fresh from the Africa Cup of Nations final.
If there’s one thing the Germans are good at, it’s World Cups.
The country’s only major trophy since effectively taking over from West Germany in late 1990 is the 1996 European Championship, but a team that rarely looks brilliant on paper has done its best to emulate World Cup wins in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
Since Italia 1990 they have been quarter-finalists twice, third once and runners-up once, when they lost in the final to Brazil in 2002.
German efficiency is a stereotype that the football team have only reinforced, and their unbending spirit married with stars such as Miroslav Klose make them a team to fear, despite injuries to players like captain Michael Ballack.
Having been narrowly knocked out of the quarter-finals by Italy in 2006, Australia go into South Africa 2010 hardened by their move to the Asian qualifying zone.
|Group D fixtures|
Sunday June 13
Friday June 18
Saturday June 19
Wednesday June 23
Being perennial bully-boys in the weak Oceania setup had done the Socceroos no favours and they were absent from the top table for 32 years before winning a playoff against Uruguay to reach Germany 2006.
Players with the pedigree of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and keeper Mark Schwarzer saw them make light of heavyweight Asian opposition as they finished top in qualifying to fuel hope of a successful campaign this summer.
Stepping out at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria will be a proud moment for Radomir Antic’s players as it will be the first time the team has played at a World Cup under the Serbian flag.
The side had a disastrous campaign in 2006 as Serbia and Montenegro but beat France, Austria and Romania to top-spot in their qualifying group for 2010.
Manchester United centre back Nemanja Vidic anchors a rock-solid defence and has plenty of European Champions League pedigree alongside him in the form of Inter’s Dejan Stankovic, Liverpool-bound Milan Jovanovic and Cologne’s Zoran Tosic.
The Black Stars reached this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals playing an efficient brand of football that should serve them well in the unforgiving crucible of a World Cup.
Striker Asamoah Gyan honed his finishing on the pitches of Angola in January but Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, the side’s most famous member, has failed to recover from a knee injury.
Despite constituting perhaps the biggest African threat at the finals alongside Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana are still ranked only 32nd in the world and have much to prove in their second tournament following their debut in 2006.