Fortaleza: Germany repeated their feat of four years ago by beginning their campaign with a 4-0 victory against a mighty Portugal.
Post the super start, the Germans are determined to stay focused and staying grounded as they desperately want to avoid what had happened back in 2010 in South Africa.
Germany routed Australia to start their 2010 campaign, but then lost 0-1 to Serbia in their very next game. After the thumping win over the Portuguese earlier this week, Germany are keeping their fingers crossed as their next opponent is Ghana, here, at the Estadio Castelao, on Saturday.
In terms of figures, pressure will be on Ghana since they lost their opener to the United States. But coach Joachim Loew and his troops are well aware of the threats and problems the Ghanaians can pose.
“Our second match of World Cup 2010 is a warning,” defender Per Mertesacker said. “We opened very well, but then went on to lose the game. We’ll have to take tomorrow’s game very seriously.”
In their previous World Cup meeting — in South Africa — Germany had beaten the Black Stars by a solitary goal to reach the knockout stage. A win on Saturday will certainly make them feel relieved apart from earning a knockout berth.
A big downside from the opening win, though, was an injury picked up by central defender Mats Hummels. Hummels did not practice with the team on Thursday and a decision on his fitness won’t be made until shortly before the match.
“I hope Mats will be able to play. We’ve just started getting accustomed to playing alongside each other and to have more confidence,” Mertesacker said. “It would be a little question or so mark if Mats can’t play, but we all know what we have to do.”
Germany are likely to stick to the same formation without an out-and-out striker, which worked so well against Portugal with Thomas Mueller scoring a hat-trick. Captain Philipp Lahm will continue in defensive midfield, assistant coach Hansi Flick said.
The contest also brings together again the Boateng half-brothers, Jerome — a Germany defender — and Kevin-Prince — a Ghana forward — who started on the bench against the United States. Regardless of whether he starts on Saturday, the Germans are quite familiar with their opponent.
Kevin-Prince has already upped the ante, commenting that Loew’s team lacked leaders and characters when the going gets tough. He certainly threw down the gauntlet with his comments.
“I guessed I touched a nerve by speaking the truth about that,” said Kevin-Prince, who fancies himself as such a tough guy.
“In really tight matches for Germany in the past, there was never anyone who stepped up to take charge. Jogi Loew can hang those on the wall if he wants. It’s not just the opinion of one player. It’s a fundamental truth.”
According to Mertesacker, “Ghana is a very physical team… They try to outplay you… They want to shine. They are a dangerous team and we’ll have to be very clever, especially in this heat. We’ll have to be good in defence.”
Even though Ghana have a quality midfield and attack, their problem is a porous defence, even with Asamoah Gyan switched to fullback now to fill a gap.
Michael Essien has a toe injury but if he recovers will likely come into midfield with Kevin-Prince picked in attack ahead of Jordan Ayew.
What seem to bug Ghana more are reports of a “player revolt” against coach Kwesi Appiah following the loss to the United States. Ghana’s Joy FM said players, in particular Kevin-Prince, were unhappy with Appiah’s tactics in the defeat to the Americans.