The rule of thumb for most will see a fairly predictable outcome for this encounter. A combative, resolute and organised Australian outfit force concern upon Germany for long periods, only to fall foul of glorious failure and the narrowest of defeats. Such arrogant foresight may not sit well with the inhabitants of Oz, yet winning predictability is a mentality many have come accustomed to of their opponents.
- Loew: Doesn’t like Australian style
And that is exactly the mentality Germany hope to continue as they head into the World Cup with their youngest captain since 1934 in Philip Lahm. While Brazil, Spain and Argentina have entered South Africa accompanied by a media circus, Germany appears to have sneaked in under the radar. Not topping the bookies list for outright glory may be something they are unfamiliar with, however the lack of world renowned stars is not a subject coach, Joachim Loew is concerned with. “We are not typically German anymore. We want to embarrass opponents with our playing skills”, said Loew ahead of this fixture.
Despite such words of intent Germany will be more than happy to start things off with three points. Continuing their attacking pattern of 2006 they most likely will enforce a 4-3-3 formation, with Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski playing either side of out of form striker, Miroslav Klose. Much will also depend on the abilities of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, who will need to ditch potential for substance while sitting alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in the engine room. Per Mertesacker is the rock at centre-half, while Lahm’s responsibility to dart forward and provide defensive solidity will be key.
The Australians have unexpectedly had to deal with Loew abusing their playing style in the build-up. Coining words and phrases such as “boring” and “anything but a spectacle”, he has openly ridiculed the more defensive playing style imposed by Pim Verbeek since Guus Hiddink’s departure after 2006. Harry Kewell is now deployed as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tim Cahill playing a supporting role.
“Let them throw stones, we’ll just cop it on the chin,” said the Everton midfielder. “It definitely doesn’t bother us. There is a lot of talk about the Germans talking us down and how well they are going to do and for us that is a positive.”
- Klose: Chasing form
However, with Germany breaking from the old workmanlike set-up and promising some flair, one tradition they hope to continue is that of Klose scoring in the World Cup. The Bayern Munich striker has hit five in the last two tournaments and lies just six off the all-time record goalscorer, Ronaldo, in the competition.
“He was very agile, quick in his actions in training,” said Loew after Klose’s poor season domestically. “He’s getting his form back, and he’s getting fresher physically as well. Miro can still be very important to us.”
In rehearsals Germany have recorded victories over Malta, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzogovina, scoring nine goals in the process. A preceding home defeat to Argentina in March, however, caused panic, with many considering the performance unacceptable. Australia’s preparations produced defeats to New Zealand and USA, although they did beat Denmark. Current form, history and players favour a German win, but it won’t come easy.
Prediction: Germany 1 Australia 0