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Group A

The fates were clearly smiling on the hosts of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. Pitted against Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador, the Mannschaft face three capable teams, but they are surely well equipped to negotiate their way through to the knock-out stages. The key, of course, will be to not underestimate their opponents, a lesson both France and Argentina learned to their cost in 2002. For their part, the Poles and Ecuadorians will be confident after impressive qualification campaigns, while Costa Rica already showed themselves capable of causing an upset in 1990.

  Standings and Results
Group A MP W D L GF GA Pts
GER 3 3 0 0 8 2 9
ECU 3 2 0 1 5 3 6
POL 3 1 0 2 2 4 3
CRC 3 0 0 3 3 9 0
09 Jun GER : CRC 4:2
09 Jun POL : ECU 0:2
14 Jun GER : POL 1:0
15 Jun ECU : CRC 3:0
20 Jun ECU : GER 0:3
20 Jun CRC : POL 1:2

Date in your diary: Gelsenkirchen, 14 June, Germany v Poland
The second outing for both teams, Germany and Poland will meet in Gelsenkirchen for a match that is sure to prove crucial to both sides' qualification hopes. And just to spice things up, this encounter will remind more senior fans of another tussle on German soil. The venue was Frankfurt and the occasion the second round of the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ and a match the West Germans narrowly won 1-0 before going on to lift the trophy.

David v Goliath: Munich, 9 June, Germany v Costa Rica
The Costa Ricans could hardly have imagined a more testing first game than a rendezvous with the hosts, who will undoubtedly be fired up for the opening match of the tournament in front of a packed crowd at the FIFA World Cup Stadium in Munich.

History repeats itself: Germany v Poland
West Germany faced Poland at two successive FIFA World Cup finals, in 1974 and 1978, but the matches produced just one goal, scored by Gerd Muller for the Germans in '74.


At first sight, the Germans appear hot favorites to dominate Group A. Always expected to shine in FIFA World Cup year, Germany ought to be even more menacing with home advantage this time around. And they will also be confident of starting off on the right foot against Costa Rica, a team with numerous qualities, but evidently a rung below their opponents on the international footballing ladder. Add the fact that there will not be a spare seat in Munich as the hosts feel the force of an entire nation behind them and it is hard to imagine them slipping up. Unless the pressure proves too much, that is.

The second challenge awaiting Jurgen Klinsmann's men looks a lot more difficult. Up against a Poland side who pushed England all the way during qualification, they will definitely need to proceed with caution. Indeed, games between the two outfits have always been close affairs and not least in FIFA World Cups, with the Germans edging a tense match in 1974. A similar outcome would suit them down to the ground next June, when they went on to win the title 31 years ago. And everyone knows how important superstition is in football.

That said, nobody should be surprised if Ecuador end up spoiling the party. Having sealed their place by leaving Paraguay and Uruguay in their wake in the extremely competitive South American Zone, Luis Fernando Suarez's charges will be afraid of no-one. Likewise, they will have learned from their disappointing showing in 2002 and will be eager to demonstrate their tidy passing game and attacking capabilities as they strive for a berth in the last 16. Their task will not be easy, however, particularly because their best results have all tended to come at home. Performing on foreign soil has been a problem in the past and one they will need to address before their crucial first match against Poland in Gelsenkirchen.

Did you know?
Ecuador have only ever won one FIFA World Cup match. The good news is that it came against a European side, Croatia, in 2002. The South Americans will have two European teams to contend with next summer.