Cacau set to fill the void for Germany
It's a funny old game. I mean how, within the space of a mere five days, can a team basking in adoration following a thumping 4-0 thrashing of Australia, find their coach preparing to gear up for a all-or-nothing game against Ghana to salvage their World Cup campaign?
Well, that's the reality for Joachim LÃÂ¶w's Germany side Ã¢ÂÂ providing Serbia inflict a second group defeat on Australia Ã¢ÂÂ with Berlin-born Kevin-Prince Boateng, the Portsmouth FC midfielder who put paid to Germany national captain Michael Ballack's World Cup hopes with a horrendous FA Cup final tackle, certain to act as the comedy villain against the country he represented from under 15 through to under 21 level.
General manager for Germany (yes, they do things a bit differently to England) Oliver Bierhoff last weekend claimed his team won't be targeting Boateng, telling Sky Sports: Ã¢ÂÂWe have to concentrate on the game and avoid being provoked, because we will not be playing against Kevin-Prince Boateng, but against GhanaÃ¢ÂÂ. Expect KPB to be booted off the pitch, then.
And should Germany do the unthinkable, and actually lose against Ghana, then LÃÂ¶w is ready to hand in his resignation. That's according to daily newspaper Bild, who say that, if the dream is ended tomorrow, then the Germans will board the 6:55pm Lufthansa Johannesburg to Frankfurt flight to head home Ã¢ÂÂ with LÃÂ¶w's resignation to follow shortly after. What a difference a week could make!
With his troops unable to find the back of the net against Serbia, and with their leading scorer from the last two World Cups, Miroslav Klose, suspended, the gaffer now needs to re-jig his team to ensure maximum points in their final group D game. So what options does 'Jogi' have in Klose's absence?
Step forward Claudemir JerÃÂ´nimo Barreto; Cacau to you and I. Born and raised in Brazil, he arrived to Germany as an 18-year-old backing dancer, and last season was the third highest German Bundesliga goalscorer.
I say German, as Cacau passed his citizenship exams over a year ago and has been eligible for the national team ever since. You would be forgiven for assuming the two Germans ahead of him in the goalscorer stakes were Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, first choice strike pairing for the national team. But that couldnÃ¢ÂÂt be further from the truth Ã¢ÂÂ the Polish-born pairing conjured up a mere five league goals all season, three and two goals respectively.
So what, then, of the top two? Stefan KieÃÂling of Bayer Leverkusen, top German goalscorer for season 2009/10 with a mammoth 21 league goals, seemingly isn't going to be given a look-in by LÃÂ¶w, while Kevin Kuranyi, with 18 league goals to his name last season, was culled from the final squad for a long-standing feud with the national team.
KieÃÂling really should be given a chance, but is highly unlikely to get one, with the boss preferring Cacau during the World Cup warm up games last month.
Of course it's still a distinct possibility that Germany and England may meet in the last 16 stage of the tournament. That's if ÃÂ£6 million per year man Fabio Capello can inspire his multi millionaires to victory over the mighty Slovenia. Should that happen, then my money would be on the Germans. Naturally.