Confederations Cup Profile - Germany
49,000 partisan fans, a world class opponent and one of the biggest stages in world football. The stage is set for Australia’s third tilt at the FIFA Confederations Cup and firstly, in their way is the hosts - Germany, an unquestioned giant of world football.
By Benjamin Coonan, in Frankfurt 49,000 partisan fans, a world class opponent and one of the biggest stages in world football. The stage is set for Australia-s third tilt at the FIFA Confederations Cup and firstly, in their way is the hosts - Germany, an unquestioned giant of world football. The Mannschaft ‘the Crew-, will make their second appearance at FIFA-s bi-annual ‘festival of champions- with a point to prove to their fanatical home fans. German pundits have been starved of regular high-octane fixtures by virtue of Germany automatically qualifying for next years FIFA World Cup as hosts. In what times Germany have been able to fine tune their preparations for the world-s biggest sporting extravaganza, German fans have not been flattered by their teams showings. They claim that the German defence is too inexperienced and the new tactics employed by coach Jurgen Klinsmann are too defensive. To further enhance public unrest, the Mannschaft-s last outing was a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to eastern rivals Russia. Still, it cannot be argued that Germany is one of world footballs most respected and feared nations and the expectation surrounding Frankfurt-s Waldstadion ahead of tomorrow-s clash is one of a comfortable victory to the home side. National luminary Jurgen Klinsmann, a true legend of world football, is the brain behind Germany-s Confederations Cup charge. As a player, he is paralleled by few, having made more appearances for his country than any other player bar one (Lothar Matthaus), although, his pedigree as a coach is relatively untested. In ten matches in charge of the Mannschaft, Klinsmann has claimed six victories, three draws and one loss - 3-1 away to the Korea Republic in December last year. Athough Klinsmann-s record is an impressive one; it has yet to convince German fans, who note that three of Germany-s wins under the World Cup winner have come against second tier nations Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Thailand. On the playing pitch, the Mannschaft are skippered by outstanding Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Ballack. Ballack, one of the gems of the modern game, is surrounded by a youthful line-up, which has few survivors from Germany-s so-close-yet-so-far FIFA World Cup 2002 campaign. Goalkeepers Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann, Torsten Frings, Gerald Asamoah, Bernd Schneider and Ballack are the only players in Klinsmann-s Confederations Cup squad that own a World Cup runners up medal from 2002. Germany-s defence, viewed sceptically by the German public as aforementioned, features 26-year-old Hertha Berlin man marker Arne Friedrich as its most senior member. Interestingly, Friedrich is still younger than every defender in Frank Farina-s Qantas Socceroo squad, save for FC Thun-s Ljubo Milicevic. Aside from Friedich, the Mannschaft can call upon Chelsea-s 20-year-old starlet Robert Huth, VfB Stuttgart-s Andreas Hinkel and Arminia Bielefield-s Patrick Owomoyela. In midfield, Ballack-s supporting cast is impressive. Veteran Frings and Ballack-s Bayern teammate Sebastian Deisler are options, so to are exciting youngsters Thomas Hitzlsperger of Aston Villa and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who netted both of Germany-s goals against Russia recently. Up front, Klinsmann is likely to go with VfB Stuttgart marksman Kevin Kuranyi, who averages a goal every two games for his country. Asamoah and rising star Lucas Podolski, the youngest member of the German squad, are also in the frame. Though the atmosphere at the Waldstadion promises to be an intimidating one, the Germans are very much breach able on their home turf. One only needs to go back as far as July 2004 to find the Mannschaft-s last loss at home, that being a shock 2-0 surrender at the hands of unfancied Hungary. However, since their meltdown in Kaiserslautern against the Hungarians, Latin giants Brazil and Argentina, among others, have been unable to come away from Germany with an optimum result. The challenge before Frank Farina and his squad is an imposing one, but not one they are all to unfamiliar with. They bring to the Waldstadion a 12-match unbeaten streak and an enviable record at the FIFA Confederations Cup that includes a second placed and third placed finish. There are few more poignant challenges in world football than taking on the hosts of a major tournament in the opening match and the Socceroos will be greeted by nation demanding of success in Frankfurt tomorrow. Australia-s start to their third Confederations Cup will not be an easy one - far from it, but one that is destined to go down in the annuls regardless of the outcome.
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