The bus championing Germany for gold as they kicked off their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ campaign was largely unpopulated. However just 90 minutes later the bandwagon was well and truly bustling, the consequence of a 4-0 rout of Australia. Serbia, by contrast, have gone from dark horses to reach the latter stages of the tournament, to outsiders for a place in the knockout stage, the result of a 1-0 defeat by Ghana.
Joachim Low and Radomir Antic will now send their charges out for a second time, with the Germans out to all but guarantee a place in the Round of 16 and Serbia simply needing something from the game to retain realistic hope of progression.
Germany-Serbia, Nelson Mandela Day Stadium, Friday 18 June, 13.30 (local time)
Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose ran riot first time out, and will now strive to put Serbia to the sword and enhance the emerging view that Germany are international football’s new entertainers. The Beli Orlovi lacked invention against Ghana, and will be hoping wingers Milos Krasic and Milan Jovanovic find their rhythm.
If Serbia lose and Ghana take something from their meeting with Australia, Antic’s team will take no hope of advancing into their final Group D game. Marko Pantelic, who spent four successful seasons in the Bundesliga before joining Ajax last year, and his towering strike partner Nikola Zigic will do their best to unravel a resolute German defence, while their defensive team-mates attempt to negate an attack which humiliated a team that conceded just one goal in eight games in the final round of Asian Zone qualifying.
Players to watch
Miroslav Klose v Nemanja Vidic
The Germany No11 served notice of his return to form with a goal against Australia. He now needs just four to equal Brazilian Ronaldo as the FIFA World Cup’s all-time leading marksman – a target he is intent on realising in South Africa. Vidic, one of the world’s finest centre-backs, will be out to nullify Klose in a battle of two players renowned for their aerial ability.
4 – The number of Serbia squad members who play their football in Germany: Antonio Rukavina (1860 Munich), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin) and Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Stuttgart).
What they say
“We are not the fantastic team which everyone makes us out to be, but we have every reason to look forward to the Serbia game with quiet confidence. It will be a different type of game as they desperately need a win. We won't win every game 4-0, but we have nothing to fear,” Thomas Muller, Germany forward.
“Germany were very impressive against Australia. They have made the biggest impact at the World Cup so far. They are like a machine, they have seven players going forward. If we want to upset them, we will have to show no fear and play the best we can, because we face a better team,” Milan Jovanovic, Serbia winger.
“It will get very difficult for Serbia against our boys. I do not want to be arrogant and I think that Serbia is stronger than Australia, but a win for Germany is realistic," ChinChillah (Germany), FIFA.com user.