Wednesday, Jun. 02, 2010


Manager: Joachim Löw

Best: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990)

Former England striker Gary Lineker once described soccer as a game in which "22 players kick a ball around for 90 minutes and then Germany wins," but a team that was once a safe bet to make the final of any World Cup tournament has lately lost its dominance. (It last won the World Cup in 1990 though reached the final in 2002 and came third on home soil in 2006.) Coach Joachim Löw got promoted from his assistant role after the last World Cup and has a relatively settled side at his disposal, with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose well versed in the art of punishing their opponents' lapses. It's that last-man-standing ability that often gets them through to the final stages of international tournaments, and the core of this team has played together for years. But they'll badly miss captain Michael Ballack, who has been ruled out because of the ankle injury he suffered in the FA Cup final for Chelsea. Ironically, it was inflicted by Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng, who could face Germany when Ghana play them in Soccer City, Johannesburg on June 23. What's more, Boateng was born in Germany and represented German youth teams but chose to play for Ghana, his father's country of birth.

Player to watch: Phillip Lahm. The buccaneering Bayern Munich right back has a knack for creating goals by bombing forward to join the attack.