FIFA 2014: What You Need to Know about Germany
A World Cup Powerhouse
Germany is coming into the World Cup undefeated with nine wins and one draw against Sweden. Germany has won the World Cup three times, ranking only behind Italy (four FIFA World Cup wins) and Brazil (five FIFA World Cup victories). The Germans have also finished second and third a total of four times each. No other team has played more games or scored more points in the FIFA World Cup finals.
The First Game Against Portugal
Germany, ranked No. 2 behind Spain, kicks things off June 16 against No. 3 Portugal. Led by coach Joachim Loew, Germany defeated Portugal 1-0 in the 2012 Euro games. Prior to that, Germany beat Portugal 3-2 in the UEFA Euro quarterfinals in 2008 and 3-1 in the 2006 World Cup third-place playoff.
Germany plays 38th ranked Ghana on June 21, then plays 14th ranked Team USA on June 26. Germany is 6-3 against Team USA since 1993 but was upset the last time these two teams met, a 4-3 loss in an international friendly in 2013. The game against Ghana is no cakewalk, either. Ghana is expected to attack early and often, providing a difficult early match.
The German Team's Midfielders
Mesut Ozil is known for his finesse and assists. Marco Reus has excellent control of the ball with both feet. Andre Schurrle is able to sprint long distances. Mario Gotze has dribbling ability along with an almost unnatural speed. Thomas Muller is a consistent team player with stamina. Toni Kroos is an absolute phenome when it comes to his assists on goal.
Defensive Players to Watch
Philipp Lahm is known for his pace and tackling abilities. Mats Hummels, tall and strong, and has good technique in the tackle. Marcell Jansen is known for his accurate crossing and pace in spite of his tall height. Jerome Boateng is known for his strength and composure. Manuel Neuer is a large goalkeeper with impressive reflexes.
Surviving Group G will be an accomplishment in and of itself. The group has been dubbed "The Group of Death" because of Germany, Portugal, the U.S. and Ghana, which is considered Africa's best hope at the 2014 World Cup. Nonetheless, Germany is still the favorite to win out of this group, thanks to its size and speed and, of course, talent.