Germany-Australia Friendly Preview: Socceroos want revenge

29 March 2011

Written by: Ben Waterworth

Germany v Australia: Wednesday 30 March, 5.45am (AEST) at Borussia Park, Monchengladbach (TV: Fox Sports 3)


When it comes to football, both Germany and Australia have an interesting relationship with each other. The Socceroos qualified for their first World Cup in 1974, which took place in West Germany, and they played the hosts in the group stage.  So it was quite ironic that 32 years later, when the Socceroos finally qualified for their second World Cup, it happened to be in Germany where the team did brilliantly to make the last 16 and nearly qualify for the quarter-finals. It just had to be that Australia and Germany just could not leave each other’s side as they were grouped together for 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

That fateful June night in Durban saw Die Mannschaft (German national team) waltz their way to a 4-0 win against a Socceroos side, which through some incredibly puzzling coaching by Dutchman Pim Verbeek  – namely not playing a single striker – was made to look impotent. It was a devastating blow from which the campaign was unable to be salvaged.  As for the Germans, they cruised into the semi-finals following crushing victories over England and Argentina, before coming a cropper against the eventual champions Spain and therefore finishing third.

Since then the contrast could not have been much different. Germany has kept heading in a steady direction under coach Joachim Loew and have lost very few, if any, players from their 2010 campaign, an ominous sign for the next World Cup.  While for the Socceroos, Verbeek said farewell and into the hot seat came German Holger Osieck, who was the assistant coach to Franz Beckenbauer in West Germany’s 1990 World Cup victory and also coached Canada to Victory at the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Under Osieck, the Socceroos have become a far more confident and attacking team, which is willing to take some chances – something that certainly was not occurring under Verbeek.


Since the 2010 World Cup, the Germans have been in fine form. They drew in friendlies against both Sweden and Denmark, but in their current Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, they are sitting pretty at the top of their group and look certainties to qualify for the finals in Poland and Ukraine next year. They have five wins from as many matches, scoring 17 goals and conceding only one in the process.

The Socceroos have been in reasonable form of late having made the final of January’s AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, only to suffer a heartbreaking extra time defeat against Japan in the final. They were outstanding against Uzbekistan in the semi-final winning 6-0, after having already beaten Iraq in a gripping quarter-final, only to fall at the final hurdle in the quest to win the first major trophy since joining the AFC in 2007. However, the form in friendlies under Osieck has been mixed to say the least. Solid victories against Paraguay and Poland have been coupled with a draw against Switzerland and heavy defeats on the road in Slovenia and Egypt.


Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

The 26-year-old is the most experienced player in the German midfield, having already registered 85 caps for his country. He was one of the stars in the Germans’ 4-0 win over the Socceroos in South Africa, along with his fellow midfield comrades Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil. Schweinsteiger’s versatility is the key to his success. He can play as a winger and also play the role of a robust midfielder who is not afraid to get stuck in and make tackles. Despite being so young, Schweinsteiger has nearly achieved everything in the game. He has won five German Bundesliga titles and five German Cup titles with Bayern Munich, represented his country in two World Cups and was also named in the FIFA World Cup 2010 All-Star team. With several teammates to be rested for this encounter, he has to take on a senior role and lead the way for his younger teammates. If Australia let him have a similar influence to that fateful night in Durban, look out.

Mark Schwarzer (Australia)

The ageless veteran continues to be in fine form for both club and country and has the goalkeeping spot sewn up for as long as he wants it. In the Asian Cup final he broke Alex Tobin’s longstanding record of appearances for the Socceroos, making his 88th appearance in a long winded Socceroos career, which began all the way back in 1993. The amount of times he saved Australia during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign was endless and if it was not for his performances, the Socceroos would have struggled to qualify. Schwarzer is best known in this country for his two penalty saves against Uruguay in 2006 World Cup playoff in Sydney, which ensured we qualified for a World Cup for the first time in 32 years. Having suffered a torrid night during the defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup, Schwarzer will be desperate to put in a really good performance and he should expect plenty of work against a slick German attacking force. This game holds extra significance as it is again up against the country where his parents were born.


 Following their 4-0 victory over Kazakhstan in their Euro 2012 qualifier on the weekend, German coach Loew has opted to use an experimental side for this friendly. Key players Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Captain Philipp Lahm have been released from the squad due to upcoming club commitments in the Champions League. This means, Borussia Dortmund trio Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels and Sven Bender will be given the chance to show their worth on the international stage, after being key players in the club’s charge to the top of the German Bundesliga. Up front, Lukas Podolski is set to be replaced by FC Mainz youngster Andre Schurrle.

Possible German Team (4-2-3-1 structure) – Manuel Neuer, Marcel Schmelzer, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Sven Bender, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Andre Schurrle, Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose

The Socceroos suffered a major setback after Tim Cahill was ruled out with a foot injury he suffered in the English Premier League. He is likely to be the only change from the team that started the Asian Cup final, with Robbie Kruse who has just moved to German 2.Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf a good chance to replace him. Coach Osieck has also added three more players to the squad in James Holland, Brent McGrath and Adam Sarota, who impressed in a training camp for Europe based youngsters last week. They will be on the bench alongside fellow youngster Mitchell Langerak, who had a dream debut for Borussia Dortmund earlier this season.

Possible Australian Team (4-4-2 structure) – Mark Schwarzer, Luke Wilkshire, Lucas Neill, Sasa Ognenovski, David Carney, Brett Holman, Carl Valeri,  Mile Jedinak,  Matt McKay, Harry Kewell, Robbie Kruse


This match will be an interesting clash of styles. Germany usually plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but with both Khedira and Ozil missing, this might change.

Australia’s best chance of winning is to match it in midfield and attacking on the counter. Unlike his predecessor, Osieck has shown he is willing to try and win games with not just defensive structure, but attacking flair, which has made Australian fans excited again.

A good start is imperative as the first half of the encounter in Durban was an unmitigated disaster, as the defensive game of Verbeek fell to pieces. Cahill is a major loss for the Socceroos, as he is the one player who does scare opposition teams with his athletic ability and knack of being in the right place at the right time. It gives a big opportunity to Robbie Kruse to show his new employers and the German footballing public what he is capable of.

The Socceroos will be keen to overturn last year’s result and Osieck will aim to get one over his countrymen. Despite all the changes to the German team for this match, Germany should be too strong and record a comfortable victory.


Germany 3-1 Australia

John Takemura is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and upstart’s soccer guru.