NO WEAK LINK
CALL IT THE GROUP OF DEPTH. GERMANY IS THE ONLY RECOGNIZED WORLD POWER IN GROUP D, BUT THE OTHER THREE NATIONS—AUSTRALIA, Ghana and Serbia—all finished first in their qualifying groups, and Australia and Ghana made it to the second round in 2006. It would be no surprise if any of those three advanced, along with Germany, and became the surprise team of the tournament. ¶ The schedule could be decisive. Playing Germany in its opener puts Australia at a disadvantage, while facing the Germans last could benefit Ghana. If Germany has already secured the top spot by then, might it rest players and give Ghana a pass? ¶ Focus will fall on veteran midfield stars like Michael Ballack (Germany), Harry Kewell (Australia), Michael Essien (Ghana) and Dejan Stanković (Serbia), but which teams advance might be determined by the younger talents who break out in South Africa. Among those are German midfielder Mesut Özil, 21, and Ghana's dynamic 20-year-old striker, Dominic Adiyiah.