Neill counting on an upset
Australia captain Lucas Neill has admitted that Germany are favourites for their World Cup opener
By Mike Barton
Last Updated: 12/06/10 5:32pm
Australia captain Lucas Neill has admitted that Germany are "rightly favourites" for their Group C World Cup opener in Durban.
Germany's record in the tournament speaks for itself with three finals wins, as well as winning every group game since 1994 and five straight victories in their opening game.
Australia on the other hand go into the game as underdogs given their World Cup pedigree, with just two finals appearances to their name.
Galatasaray defender Neill however was confident his team could pull off a shock victory, knowing that their tag as underdogs could lead them to being underestimated by their opponents.
"Germany are rightly favourites," he said. "They're a superior team to us, they play in better leagues, they've been to the World Cup so many times before and they've earned that right.
"We know we're the underdogs. And we know we'll have to be at our very, very best to get near a German side on the night.
"But with a bit of luck on the night who knows what's possible.
"On the night, age and experience count for nothing. It's all about 11 players against 11 players."
The former Blackburn and West Ham defender was also wary of the challenge they will face should they lose their opening game, admitting that there had been no tougher challenge than facing Germany in the nation's history.
"It's the first game in the tournament, and if you lose the first game it becomes more difficult," said Neill.
"We're taking on a team so consistent ... a nation expected to get into the semi-final or final.
"It will be a very, very tough game, probably the toughest game Australia has ever had in the World Cup.
"Is there ever a good time to play Germany? I don't think so," said Neill.
"But we're extremely excited and feel very lucky to be the ones to go out there and represent the green and gold.
"Last time (in 2006), it was an unknown journey and the way it ended kept us hungry."
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek gave his sympathies to German captain Michael Ballack, who will miss the tournament through injury.
The talismanic German, who was set to captain his country, was injured in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth following a challenge from Kevin Prince Boateng, forcing him to miss the entire tournament.
"Ballack's a very big loss, there's no doubt about it. It's also a loss for the World Cup and a pity for the rest of the world," said Verbeek.
"Germany have good, exciting players, but we have to play ourselves and do our best to get a result."