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Former Socceroo Ned Zelic: Group D’s Anybody’s For The Taking (Goal.com)

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Silly to concede top spot to the Germans before tournament’s even commenced, says the typically composed Zelic

Dec 8, 2009 5:32:00 AM

Former Australia international Ned Zelic has dispelled the general consensus of Germany being odds-on favourites to take out Group D, which also contains Australia, Ghana, and Serbia.

The well-travelled Canberra-native spent the majority of his career abroad in Germany, where he turned out for the likes of German giants Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, and 1860 Munich.

Zelic is best remembered for his feats against the Netherlands in the ’92 Olympics qualifier, scoring a dramatic brace which booked the Olyroos their place at the Barcelona games.

Speaking to The Australian, the former Borussia Dortmund utility rubbished claims that Germany have top spot for the taking, insisting that all four teams from Group D are in equal measure to advance to the next round.

He said, “Although many people see Germany as the clear favourite in this group, I disagree and feel that any one of the four teams can finish in the top two.”

He also affirmed that the green and gold’s underdog tag will work in their favour.

“Our advantage is that we are looked on as the underdogs and I think we play our best football when we are in that position.

“We can definitely get a good result against them.

How to subdue and frustrate the 3-time World Cup winners?

Solidify the back-line and stifle ex-Bayern Munich superstar and current Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack’s advancements from deep, says the occasional television pundit.

He added, “But, to beat Germany, defensively we need to stay extremely compact.

“The German team does not combine well at all in tight areas. We also need to keep our lines pushed up to prevent [Michael] Ballack making his late runs in the box and then getting crosses in to players like [Mario] Gomez and [Miroslav] Klose.

“We can’t afford to lose possession in our own half because this German team is renowned for capitalising on mistakes.

“Offensively we need to have players like [Harry] Kewell, [Brett] Emerton and [Mark] Bresciano receiving the ball as much as possible in between their defence and midfield,”

Australia’s recent competitive history has been characterised by its relience on Everton’s Tim Cahill, and Zelic identified the mobile midfielder’s movements as crucial to breaching the traditionally organised Germany back-line.

“The German central defence lacks mobility and has problems with players who run the ball at them. If we do this their defence will drop further back which will allow [Tim] Cahill to make runs into the box.

“We need to build up quickly. The Germans are very disciplined defensively and hard to break down once they are given the time to settle.”

Australia kick off their World Cup finals campaign against Germany on June 13, in 2010, followed by games against Ghana and Serbia on the June 19 and 23 respectively.

Daniel Phan, Goal.com


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