Always a potent force in major tournaments, Germany were expected to comfortably qualify for the 2010 World Cup. After a final appearance at Euro 2008 against champions Spain and a semi final showing in their own tournament at the 2006 World Cup, few would bet against the Germans appearing in the latter stages again.
The top seeds were drawn in a six team group alongside Russia, Wales, Finland, Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein. At first glance it looked a fairly comfortable group but a Russian side who set Euro 2008 alight would provide tough opposition.
The team got off to a routine start with a 6-0 away victory against minnows Liechtenstein. This was followed by a second consecutive away match against Finland. However, the Finns were far from a pushover and took the lead on three occasions. Fortunately, a Miroslav Klose hat-trick spared the German’s blushes as they scraped a 3-3 draw. The result was a setback as many people expected top spot to come down to the two matches against Russia.
Thankfully, the next group game was against Russia and the Germans ran out 2-1 winners thanks to first half goals from Lukas Podolski and Michael Ballack. A scrappy 1-0 home victory against Wales followed before another comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Liechtenstein.
Next up was an away match in Wales which was potentially tricky on paper. Nevertheless, a half empty Millennium Stadium saw a next to nothing atmosphere as Germany cruised to a 2-0 victory. A double header against Azerbaijan followed which saw a 2-0 away victory before an even easier 4-0 home win for the Germans.
With eight games gone, the group had gone true to form. Germany were one point clear of Russia at the top with the other teams out of contention. The penultimate group match was Germany having to make the trip to Russia. A Germany win would put them on the plane to South Africa whilst a Russia win would put them in pole position. A draw would ensure that Germany had to win a far from simple home match against Finland three days later.
A tense encounter followed but it was the Germans who prevailed in true gritty fashion as a first half Miroslav Klose striker proved the difference in a 1-0 victory. A 1-1 draw with Finland in the final game proved irrelevant as Germany confirmed their presence at the World Cup next summer.
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