The moment of truth for Germany's youngest team in over seven decades has arrived. Joachim Loew's blend of youth and experience opens its World Cup campaign against Australia in Durban on Sunday.
Germany wants to start the World Cup in style with a win
The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.
Germany begin their World Cup 2010 campaign against Australia on Sunday with coach Joachim Loew remaining true to his pledge that youth will lead the way.
Loew experimented with his youth policy throughout qualification with a number of exciting youngsters blooded along the road to South Africa but the real test awaits them in Durban.
Germany will hope that Jogi has blended the right ingredients and that his mix of youth and experience doesn't sink in the heat of competition like a failed soufflé.
With an average age of around 25, Germany's likely starting line-up in the Moses Mabidha Stadium will be Die Mannschaft's youngest team in over 70 years. But what it may be lacking in years, it certainly makes up for in excitement and quality.
Germany are expected to play in an offensively minded 4-2-3-1 formation, which could include Lukas Podolski and attacking midfielder Mesut Oezil, along with either Thomas Mueller or Toni Kroos playing behind a lone striker, either Miroslav Klose or Cacau.
Youth at the heart of Germany's creativity
German young guns Kroos, Mueller and Badstuber
Much has been written about the wisdom of charging the likes of Oezil, Mueller and Kroos with the job of conducting Germany's attacks, given the fact that these fresh-faced starlets are all short of their 23rd birthdays.
What is mostly forgotten in this analysis is that both Oezil and Mueller have spent the past season playing against some of the top teams in Europe while holding down first-team places in two of Germany's best teams, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich respectively.
Kroos, meanwhile, was an instrumental component in Bayer Leverkusen's best season in many a year.
Germany should therefore have few concerns that these youngsters will be over-awed by the occasion. And if there are a few jitters, Loew has maintained enough of the experienced guard in the side to calm the nerves and help repel what is expected to be a robust Socceroos team.
Loew's plan to play new stars with experienced players aims to bring Germany new energy
New captain Philipp Lahm will command fellow stalwarts Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich in the back four, all of which will give one of the two talented youngsters Holger Badstuber or Jerome Boateng the confidence to take his place in Germany's defensive quartet, safe in the knowledge that his fellow stoppers have been here before.
Ahead of them, the increasingly mature and influential Bastian Schweinsteiger will shepherd the midfield with newcomer Sami Khedira by his side.
Ahead of the creative trio of Podolski, Oezil and Mueller (or Kroos) - who is likely to get the nod ahead of Piotr Trochowski - Germany may have the old head of Miroslav Klose to aim for as the chosen lone striker.
While Klose has been off the boil for Bayern this season, he is still a proven World Cup striker who always seems to rise to such an occasion. Germany will hope this is the case again this year as his deputies all come with question marks. Mario Gomez and Stefan Kiessling have never proved convincing at this level, and while Cacau has looked good in recent friendlies he has had few appearances in competitive matches in a Germany shirt.
"We watched a video of Australia on Friday and they made a big impression," said Oliver Bierhoff, the Germany team manager. "They have not conceded a goal in 17 of their last 27 games, they are sturdy and they will be very focused," he warned.
Socceroos play the waiting game
Australia were no push-overs in Germany in 2006
The Australian team will be full of experience with an average age over 30 and are expected to face this young, attacking Germany with defense in mind.
A strong defensive game and organization was the key to Australia's strong showing in the 2006 World Cup which saw them through to the knockout stage where they were felled by a very debatable penalty decision in extra time against Italy - the side who went on to become champions.
The Socceroos will send out a team charged with soaking up German pressure, hoping to sap the strength of Germany's youngsters while hoping that star midfielder Tim Cahill can unlock the defense on the counter-attack.
Australia's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek was hoping that striker Harry Kewell would be fit enough to spearhead those attacks but the Galatasaray forward is unlikely to start after missing all the Socceroos' warm-up games due to injury.
While Kewell could well be back to face Ghana in the next game, Joshua Kennedy will continue to fill in for the time being as Australia's lone striker against the Germans.
Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Kyle James