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World Cup 2010 draw: Group D reaction
04/12/2009  by Telegraph.co.uk
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On the spot: Germany manager Joachim Loew predicts that Group D will be one of the tightest in the tournament 

How Germany qualified for World Cup 2010: European Group 4 winners.

Manager: Joachim Loew
Captain: Michael Ballack
Premier League players: Robert Huth (Stoke City), Michael Ballack (Chelsea).

Germany coach Joachim Loew expects his side's Group D to be one of the tightest next summer, predicting a battle to the very end.

The 2006 hosts were placed in Group D together with Australia, Serbia and Ghana and Loew is not taking any of the three opponents lightly.

"We have lots of respect for Serbia and I have seen some of their games from the qualifiers on DVD and saw how they left France clearly behind them," he said.

"And Ghana are not an outsider either. Along with Algeria and the Ivory Coast, they are one of the strongest teams.

"They did well in Germany (in 2006) and they have Michael Essien, who Michael Ballack knows well. He is a top-level player."

Germany start their campaign against Australia in Durban on June 13 and Loew expects that to be a tough opening fixture against a side who had practically knocked Italy out of the last World Cup, until a dubious penalty decision gave the eventual champions a lifeline.

"It is going to be an important game for us and it will be important to win it," added Loew.

Germany's final group game will be against Ghana in Johannesburg, not too far away from the base they have selected for the duration of the tournament.

"We are happy to play our third and potentially decisive game close to our hotel," said Germany's team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

"We are happy with the draw. We didn't get France or the Ivory Coast so it could have been harder, but we are up against physical teams and they are going to demand everything from us."

Getting off to a good start will be crucial for Germany, who then face Serbia in Port Elizabeth on June 18, but Bierhoff thinks they will get their easiest fixture out of the way first.

"Australia are a team we fancy our chances against," he said. "We have the better quality and, if we prepare correctly and are fit, then we should beat them."

Ghana are the team causing Bierhoff the biggest headache and he admitted that he would have preferred to draw a South American opponent rather than one from Africa, who he claims "enjoy a bit of home advantage."

"But we have to take what we have got," he added.

How Serbia qualified for World Cup 2010: European Group 7 winners.

Manager: Radomir Antic
Captain: Dejan Stankovic
Premier League players: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Nenad Milijas (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Zoran Tosic (Manchester United).

Serbia coach Radi Antic said: "It is not going to be easy and while Germany are obviously the favourites Australia and Ghana cannot be underestimated at all. Germany will be the toughest though because of their football culture and World Cup history.

How Australia qualified for World Cup 2010: Asia, Group A winners.

Manager: Pim Verbeek
Captain: Lucas Neill
Premier League players: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Lucas Neill (Everton), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Tim Cahill (Everton).

"All the teams have their own style and we have to cope with that but I think we can take our chance. They will fear us as well."

"I think the draw is fantastic," Australia coach Pim Verbeek told Australian broadcaster SBS. "I know Germany very well. Ghana is very strong and Serbia beat France in the qualifiers. So it's not going to be easy.

"It could have been better but it could have been worse. Now it's time to prepare for these game and we look forward to it.

"Germany first up is good. We can start preparing for them immediately and then we have time to prepare for Ghana. So I think it's good for us but it will be tough."

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