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Germany Can Meet and Beat Brazil In Final
Germany - Paraguay | News Archive

06/14/2002. If you read this site, you already know who's made it to the second round in Korea/Japan. Whether or not you're a supporter of the German national team, you may have had your doubts about their ability to perform at World Cup level, especially after their recent reputation for playing 50-50 ball. Catch them on an off day and they look like amateurs. But if the stars are properly aligned—we're talking by Rudi Völler and not the cosmos—they are unstoppable, even merciless.

And now that they've made it through, the time has come again to wonder when they will hit the next speed bump or if they will marshal the force of will to power through to victory. With two of the big favorites already out of the running, the odds are tightening up and it remains to be seen what other surprises are in store for soccer fans the world over.

A few thoughts need airing on the chances of the Germans at this point. They have proven to operate better under pressure and there will be no shortage of it from here on in. Single match elimination is 100 percent stress. With three starters out against Paraguay, will the Teutons be able to maintain their sense of togetherness and team "Geist"? Chances are, this is where their lack of a central, commanding figure may serve them well. The German press has dogged Rudi about his team's lack of such a unifying figure. Jens Nowotny would have been that man. Stefan Effenberg could have as well, but he has long since sworn off playing for the national side for his own reasons. It's not much of a secret that he refuses to take the good with the bad from his own fans. Mehmet Scholl is out as well, so what really has had to occur is for the team to become one mind, to remain aware and focused for ninety minutes every time they take to the field. It's a daunting proposition, but they have made it work for them so far. The greater the odds, the harder they fight. Look what they did to Cameroon.

Expect some surprises from the German bench. Miroslav Klose has already blossomed into the hottest scorer so far. We have yet to see what Sebastian Kehl can do given the chance. Oliver Neuville can be dangerous with the right support and Michael Ballack is also primed and ready. The key will be the defense. Now with Hamann out for Paraguay, the question is, can Jens Jeremies rise to the occasion and outgrow his bulldog role to become the impassable wall his team needs? All we can do is wait and see.

The way the tournament is arranged, Germany would not meet their biggest psychological enemies Brazil or England until the final, but along the way they have a
daunting range of challenges (none of them impossible). If they defeat Paraguay, their next opponent would probably be Mexico.

The next round will be either Italy or Spain, but the stiffest opposition will likely be Spain. All of these fiery Latin teams would provide a solid foundation of experience for the final confrontation with the masters of the hot foot, Brazil. It is entirely possible.

The prospect of defeating the record holders in World Cup wins would bring Germany on par with Brazil at four and set them up for the defense at home in 2006. Oh, sure, the dreaming can go pretty far, but it's all part of the agony and ecstasy of the game.

I'll get up at 4:00 a.m. That's the easy part.

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