Suicide and leukaemia put Socceroos' crunch clash in perspective

Australia draw inspiration for today's 'final' with Germany

The first game of a World Cup campaign is, in the footballers' lexicon, always "massive". Today's tie between Germany and Australia at the Moses Mahiba Stadium will be no different – "it is like a final", said Aussie midfielder Carl Valeri – but neither team should have any trouble keeping the occasion in perspective.

In November, Robert Enke, who was in line to keep goal for Germany in this World Cup, committed suicide by walking in front of a train near Hanover. It later emerged that the 32-year-old had been suffering from depression for several years. He and wife Teresa had lost a two-year-old daughter through a rare heart condition and Enke was concerned their adopted daughter Leila would be taken from them if his illness became publicly known.

Last week, Brad Jones, one of the goalkeepers in the Australian squad, went home after his four-year-old son, Luca, was diagnosed with leukaemia. Jones said on Friday he would not be returning and Eugene Galekovic, of Adelaide United, was drafted in to replace the Middlesbrough goalkeeper.

"The World Cup is irrelevant for me now," Jones said in confirming he would not be returning to South Africa. "When I walked into the room and Luca smiled when he saw me, that was worth more than anything the World Cup could give me."

Both teams will seek to draw inspiration from their colleagues' suffering, as football teams do. Australia's captain, former West Ham and Everton defender Lucas Neill, said earlier this week that Jones' bad news had "galvanised the team" and given them "that extra inspiration we needed".

Come kick-off, however, all minds will be on the contest. German coach Joachim Low has already raised the temperature by calling upon his players to "embarrass" opponents and suggesting Australia will be "boring". The Aussies do have a more defensive outlook under Pim Verbeek than his compatriot Guus Hiddink but, given the dearth of attacking resources, they have little choice. With no obvious centre-forward, Harry Kewell is expected to lead the line, with support from Tim Cahill, now recovered from a neck injury that forced him to train alone.

Neill, leaving no cliché unspoken, yesterday promised the green-and-gold would show their traditional spirit and fight "from the first second to the last".

They will not lack for support. Australian supporters have crossed the Indian Ocean in their thousands, with many camped in a tent city set up at Kingsmead, the cricket ground where Kevin Pietersen first came to prominence. During the day they are at the fan park which, in a home-from-home, has been set up on the beach.

The German support is less visible but probably more confident. Since re-unification, Germany have won all five opening matches at the World Cup and must be favoured to win a sixth despite the loss of several players to injury, notably Michael Ballack. If they win the tournament they will not be as well rewarded as they would have been when hosting four years ago. German bonuses have been cut from 300,000 euros a man to 250,000 – the difference presumably is funding the Greek bail-out.

Low must decide whether to stick with Miroslav Klose in attack after a largely barren league season with Bayern Munich. Cacau and Mario Gomez are alternatives in what is expected to be a 4-2-3-1 formation. Sami Khedira, of Stuttgart, is likely to deputise for Ballack in a holding role alongside the versatile Bastian Schweinsteiger. Inspiration is sought from young Mezut Ozil. In defence, Jerome Boateng, Manchester City's new £11m signing, is expected to line up in central defence.

Germany (4-5-1): Butt; Friedrich, Boateng, Mertesacker, Lahm; Muller, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Ozil, Podolski; Klose.

Australia (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Wilkshire, Neill, Moore, Chipperfield; Grella, Culina; Emerton, Cahill, Bresciano; Kewell.

Referee: M Rodriguez (Mexico).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried