Saturday, May 29, 2010

Advance Australia? A Group of Death Preview

No you haven't missed the previews for any other groups, I decided to start with the most interesting group. Which is of course the Group of Death, group D. The teams in this group are Germany, Ghana, Serbia, & Australia. Germany are undoubtedly the strongest team in the group, even with the loss of their captain Ballack. In my opinion Ghana are the strongest African side in the competition, even with the loss of the their captain Essien. Noticing a trend? This group is shaping up nicely for Serbia and Australia.

A few thing that I have looked at a lot in preparation for the matches at the World Cup has been the distance that a side has to travel for their next match, as well as the change in altitude, and their warm up matches. To give you an idea of the altitude in South Africa Jo'burg is 1753m above sea level, Denver is 1609m and Calgary is 1048m. Also by way of comparison La Paz Bolivia is 3640. For distance the longest journeys in the World Cup are between Cape Town and Polokwane, and Cape Town and Nelspruit both over 1700km. Think Toronto - Halifax or Vancouver - Regina.

Here is how Group D shapes up in those categories:

Germany start off in Durban at sea level. Then they travel 950 km to Port Elizabeth to take on Serbia and remain at sea level. For their last match they travel 1062km to Jo'burg and gain 1753 metres in elevation.

Ghana start off in Pretoria at 1214m. They travel 104km to Rustenburg and gain 286m when they face the Socceroos. After that they go 121km to Jo'burg and gain another 253m before their match with Germany.

Serbia begin in Pretoria at 1214m. Following that they travel 1123km to Port Elizabeth and drop to sea level. They wrap up by travelling 1410km to Nelspruit and go back up 660m.

Australia get going in Durban at sea level. They have a 693km journey to Rustenburg and an elevation increase of 1500m. Once they have faced the Black Stars, Australia move 436km down the road to Nelspruit and drop 840m.

Here is how I see the matches playing out.

Serbia - Ghana
Serbia are coming off a loss to New Zealand. While Ghana don't have Essien, they didn't have him for much of the African Cup of Nations either, and they made the final there. Ghana win comfortably.

Germany - Australia
This is a match that the Germans should win, however the Aussies will refuse to give up and hound the Germans all over the pitch and I think it will end in a draw. The Germans will be alright with a point and the Aussies thrilled.

Germany - Serbia
The Germans don't have a lot of problems breaking down the Serbian defense and eliminate them from the Cup with a win.

Ghana - Australia
Ghana will capitalise on their easier journey to Rustenburg and beat the Aussies who are a little worn out after their battling draw with the Germans.

Ghana - Germany
Draw. Ever since the FA Cup final I have thought this will be a draw. The teams are going to come out hard, but I don't think there will be a lot of scoring. Coincidentally a draw sends both teams through to the next round.

Australia - Serbia
Serbia are already eliminated while the Socceroos need a win to keep their hopes of advancing alive. Australia get their win but it is not enough to see them advance.

So here is how I think the Group of Death will finish:

Ghana - 7 points
Germany - 5 points
Australia - 4 points
Serbia - 0 points

1 comment:

Adt said...

You have very valid points on the altitude effect.

The Bulls used the altitude in Pretoria to great effect during the Super 14. Quite a few matches ended in the fitter team pulling through...

The Netherlands are indeed lucky that they play two of their games at sea level. Then again, that is higher above sea level than most of their country.

Keep up the good work on the blogs.