GROUP G
Germany

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

The Germans haven't won a title in 18 years, equalling their longest gap between trophies since the end of World War II (Gah! Mentioned the war already). It's about time that wait finally ended, especially since it's most likely now or never for the German Golden Generation – the likes of Philipp Lahm, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The problem, of course, is that the timing, and the location, aren't ideal: national coach Joachim Löw has lost many players to injury this season, and no European team has ever triumphed in South America. But a team of diverse talents that has grown up together has gained plenty of experience in the last two World Cups, both teams reaching the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champions.

THE DREAM

Victory. In March 2013, the national team's general manager Oliver Bierhoff drew the nation's wrath when he said that "for Europeans, it's as good as impossible to win in Brazil". It caused a minor public uproar and Bierhoff was widely accused of throwing in the towel before the bout had even begun.

He learned his lesson. Ten months later, in January, he said: "We all dream of winning the title and we're all fired up for the World Cup. We know we're among the favourites due to the high quality of our players. We want to live up to this role."

THE NIGHTMARE

There aren't too many teams for whom semi-final defeat would be a disaster. Germany are one. Over long periods of the previous eight years, the fans (and the players) have revelled in the fact that the ruthless, defensive and efficient Germany everybody hated and feared is a beast of the past.

However, after three semi-final defeats in the last four World Cups and Euros (the exception, at Euro 2008, they won with a 90th-minute goal), many Germans have come to suspect that perhaps you have to be ruthless and efficient to actually win something. So the worst-case scenario is falling at the (semi-)final hurdle yet again and acquiring a too-nice-to-win tag.

THE STATS
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ANNOY A BRAZILIAN LEGEND: MIROSLAV KLOSE

In March, Ronaldo appeared on a TV Globo show and caught some footage of Klose at Lazio. "Is this guy still playing?," Ronaldo asked incredulously. He is. And he's two goals away from breaking Il Fenomeno's World Cup scoring record.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

SAY "HELLO MUM" ON TV: THOMAS MÜLLER

After destroying England in 2010, Müller finished his post-match interview by saying: "I'd like to use the occasion to say hi to my two grannies and my granddad." Then he waved at the camera.

PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO...

GET STICK FOR HIS MUSIC TASTE: MARCO REUS

In a February 2013 interview, Reus said: "I really love listening to Justin Bieber's songs." He's since tried to repair that mistake by expressing admiration for Chris Brown and Jay-Z – but can't shake the Belieber tag.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mario Götze's father is a professor. He studied computer science at Yale University and now teaches data processing in Dortmund, giving lectures on things like linear algebra and parallel algorithms.

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1996 is a long time ago: Germany wants to win again. It won't be easy but they have the blend of tournament experience and youthful vigour.