FIFA World Cup Group D Focus: Germany form

The lowdown on who to look out for in the German squad and how they've been playing recently.

Players to look out for:

Captain Michael Ballack rates as the undisputed leader of the team. It-s probably the last chance for him to captain his side in a World Cup.

He will be hungry to take that extra step after he-s featured in sides that have taken the runners-up spot at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, third on home soil in 2006, and another second place at UEFA EURO 2008.

Also in terms of personal milestones he-s approaching 100 caps with just two more games required to get to three figures. His goal tally is also astonishing for a midfielder, he-s weighed in with 42 so far.

When talking about goals, two players weigh in with more than their fair share for the Germans. Miroslav Klose is currently the third highest German international scorer of all time, with 48 from 94 caps.

Our defenders will have to keep an eye on him if they want to stop him reaching his half century.

Lukas Podolski is one of the most popular members of the German team, the Polish-born Podolski shone in the 2006 World Cup. His international scoring record is excellent, having bagged 37 goals in all with an average of one goal every two games.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is another important name to look out for and to this day, Germany have never lost a game when he-s scored.

Phillip Lahm has been a superstar in Germany for the best part of the last decade and although he-s crucial in the side-s rearguard, he-s also good going forward.

He scored a fantastic goal in the last World Cup so he knows how to perform on the big occasion.

All of the German squad, apart from the captain Michael Ballack, are based in the country and playing for domestic sides. There are also seven players currently plying their trade at Bayern Munich who at the time of writing are preparing for the UEFA Champions League final on the 22nd May.

Although they do have a few star players, man for man they-re not really as good on paper as the England, Brazil, Italy, France or Holland squads. Their strength lies in their ability to perform when it matters, especially when the chips are down.

The coach Joachim Low was Jurgen Klinsmann's understudy at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and long ago emerged from the shadow thrown by the former world-class striker.

He took full charge in 2006 and he quickly installed the solid German values in his squad that has been so successful in the past. He summed up the German ethos perfectly.

"Meticulous and painstaking hard work is the only way to succeed."

Form heading into the World Cup:

Most recently and their only game of the year to date, they lost a home game against an out of form Argentina who struggled to make it through their qualifying group in South America.

Their previous home friendly ended in a draw when they played Ivory Coast and they also drew with Finland in their final World Cup qualifier.

Since qualifying, they-ve again been fairly unimpressive when playing in friendlies. They have only won once in their last four games (against Russia) and head into their last warm-up games in average form.

Prior to the World Cup, they have to play Malta on the 13th May, Hungary on the 29th May and Bosnia-Herzegovina before the big game against the Qantas Socceroos on the 13th June.

Their average form means nothing for the World Cup itself though, as they-ve been written off so many times and come back to silence the critics.

They seem to have the ability to step up another gear when it matters and one thing-s for sure, Australia couldn-t have kicked-off their World Cup campaign with a tougher opponent.

Australia have actually played Germany previously in a World Cup (as West Germany) in the 1974 tournament group stage. That day we lost 3-0 but football in Australia has come a long way since then, as we all know.

Coach Joachim Low has openly admitted that he-s been spending a great deal of time thinking about the form of several members of his squad. In a recent press conference.

“I-m not worried, but the situation is serious” Low told the German tabloid Bild. “As I have said before, our task must now be to get the players back to top form as quickly as possible. A lot can change in the next six weeks.”