Group A: Germany in a spot of bother
HT.com acquaints you with favourites. FIFA Rewind : West Germany, 1974 WC | Pics
With just days left until the D-day, last edition's World Cup finalists find themselves in a spot of bother.
Even though drawn in a relatively easy group with teams like Costa Rica, Ecuador and Poland, their string of unimpressive recent performances leading up to the World Cup has left German fans with shaky feet.
To make matters worse, talismanic goalkeeper Oliver Kahn - once touted as the best on earth - has fallen out of favour from coach Jurgen Klinsmann's game plan. Losing 1-4 to Italy in a friendly and drawing shockingly to Japan 2-2 aren't helping matters either.
Yet, they are hot favourites this time around. What ought to work for them is a wholly revamped defence line which looks menacing. Add the fact that the hosts will play with the power of an entire nation backing Michael Ballack to create the moves and score the stunning goals.
Who to watch:Lukas Podolski. The immense pressure and attention given to Miroslav Klose should leave the door open for Podolski - or whoever partners Klose in attack - to find open space in the attacking third.
Who's missing: Schalke striker Kevin Kuranyi has scored 14 goals in 35 caps for Germany, but suffered through a poor season in the Bundesliga, scoring 10 goals in 30 games.
Costa Rica has never faced Germany in a World Cup game or a warm-up match till now.
Mark your date: Germany v Costa Rica, June 9, 2130 IST
Poland has clashed with Germany thrice, drawing once and losing twice.
Mark your date: Germany v Poland, June 15, 0030 IST
Ecuador has never faced Germany in a World Cup game or a warm-up match till now.
Mark your date: Germany v Ecuador, June 20, 1930 IST
Group B favourite would be profiled tomorrow.