COUNTDOWN TO THE CUP
Host country South Africa plays Mexico at 7 a.m. PDT on June 11 to kick off the 32-team tournament.
Serbia vs. Ghana, June 13, 7 a.m.
Germany vs. Australia, June 13, 11:30 a.m.
Germany vs. Serbia, June 18, 4:30 a.m.
Ghana vs. Australia, June 19, 7 a.m.
Ghana vs. Germany, June 23, 11:30 a.m.
Australia vs. Serbia, June 23, 11:30 a.m.
The next round: The top two teams from this group advance to the round of 16.
All times PDT
On paper, this is the least star-studded German team in recent memory. Coach Joachim "Jogi" Low can count his standouts on one hand: Michael Ballack, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose. All that means is that if Germany pulls together, as expected, it could reach the July 11 final.
The Serbs are being mistakenly overlooked in what is admittedly a tricky group to predict, but with Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic on his squad, Coach Radomir Antic could very easily see it advance to the round of 16.
Ghana has a Serbian coach, Milovan Rajevac, which adds spice to the June 13 Ghana-Serbia game. Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng switched nationalities last week, which means that on June 23 he could make World Cup history by playing against his own brother, defender Jerome Boateng, who is on Germany's roster.
The Aussies' Dutch coach, Pim Verbeek, already has said he is leaving after the World Cup, but even if Australia didn't have a lame-duck coach, it still would struggle. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, defender Lucas Neill, midfielder Tim Cahill and forward Harry Kewell, if fit, are the best of an ordinary bunch.