The Group of Pain

So, the draw for the World Cup has been made, and Germany have ended up in one of those iffy foursomes that can be classified as not the best, but at the same time not the worst. While England and Italy have been thrown together in with is the real group of death with 2010 fourth-placers Uruguay and Australia, Joachim Löw’s side have ended up with opponents in a group that they should be able to work their way past.

So, who have we got then?

First, Germany would be drawn in Group G, meaning that their games would be played in Salvador, Fortaleza and Recife – all within close proximity to each other on Brazil’s east coast. Not as nice as the southern locations of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, but a whole lot better than some boiling Amazonian sauna.

The first opponent to be picked out would be Ghana, old friends from last time around in South Africa when a lovely Mesut Özil strike would give the Germans a 1-0 win. I would have preferred one of the slightly weaker African sides, but to win this thing you’ve got to beat ’em all. Ghana would qualify for the tournament with a 7-3 aggregate triumph over Egypt, and just like last time will not be an opponent to take lightly.

The Ghanaians will be the Nationalmannschaft’s second opponents at the 67,037-capacity Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza, an afternoon kickoff on 21st June 2014. We’ll probably see the second international meetings of the Brothers Boateng – Germany’s Jérome and Ghana’s Kevin-Prince, now playing his trade back in the Bundesliga for Schalke 04.

Next would come an opponents from the Americas/Asia pot, and it was the draw you could have predicted long before the show began. It could only the United States, coached by former German coach Jürgen Klinsmann. The US would qualify by finishing top of the CONCACAF group, and like Ghana are not to be underestimated. After all, they would beat the Germans – albeit a C-Team – in a friendly in the summer.

The meeting between Jogi and Klinsi will take place at 13:00 on 26th June 2014, in the brand-new 46,154-seat Arena Pernambuco in Recife.

The last opponent to be drawn would be from the European pot – perhaps the most dangerous. With the likes of England and the Netherlands in this pot there would be plenty of teams to avoid, but there would be some slightly less testing ones there such as Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Of course, Germany would end up with… Portugal.

The Portuguese would qualify for the finals via the play-offs and a 4-2 aggregate victory over the Mannschaft’s qualifying group opponents Sweden – inspired by the stellar Cristiano Ronaldo. Germany’s last game against the Portuguese would be their well-worked 1-0 win at Euro 2012, but I don’t think I am speaking for myself when I say that I would have preferred a slightly less testing opponents in the group opener.

Germany will get their tournament underway against the Portuguese at the Arena Fonte Nova at 13:00 on 16th June 2014 in Salvador, a 55,000 capacity ground officially opened in April this year.

So there we have it. A group that is not the easiest, but certainly not the most difficult. Not so much a group of death, but a group of pain.

Fixture List, Group G

13:00 16.06.2014 v Portugal, Salvador
16:00 21.06.2014 v Ghana, Fortaleza
13:00 26.06.2014 v United States, Recife

So, what after that? Should Germany as the seeded team make their way out of Group G in first place, they will move south to the friendly environs of Porto Alegre – home of many of Brazil’s German community – for a match against the runners-up from Group H, composed of Belgium, Russia, South Korea and Algeria. Should they finish runners-up in their group, Jogi Löw’s side will stay on the east coast in Salvador where they will take on the winners of Group H.

Somehow I can see a second-phase meeting with one of Belgium or Russia. As for beyond that, I will save those wonderfully fun prediction games for another day – I don’t want to spoil you all now and want to spin this out as slowly as I can. There will be plenty of time for that!

The Group of Pain
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