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World Cup draw

Good prospects for top Bayern stars

The Bayern contingent with realistic hopes of representing their countries at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa will all be relatively upbeat about their chances in the group stage following Friday evening’s Final Draw at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, although one South American FCB star was handed a significantly tougher task than his European team-mates.

Coach Joachim Löw’s Germany side, the seeded team in Group D and likely to feature Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, face Australia, Serbia and Ghana in the preliminary round. The three-time world champions, undefeated in the group stage since 1986, open their campaign in Durban on 13 June against the Socceroos. Five days later, Schweini and company meet Serbia in Port Elizabeth, before completing their group programme on 23 June against Ghana in Johannesburg.

Germany v England in Round of 16?

Should Löw’s team, who have opted for a base on the outskirts of Pretoria, win their group, they would play their Round of 16 fixture on 27 June in Bloemfontein. Their opponents would be drawn from Group C featuring England, USA, Algeria and Slovenia. If the Germans finish as runners-up, the last sixteen clash would be in Rustenburg against the Group C winners.

The Netherlands were also handed a section in which they will hope to contest top spot. In Group E, Bert van Marwijk’s side with Mark van Bommel, Arjen Robben and Edson Braafheid will meet Denmark, Japan and Cameroon. France will also be favourites to progress from Group A, where Franck Ribéry and his team-mates take on Mexico, Uruguay and hosts South Africa.

More to do for Micho

The one FCB man seemingly faced with a genuinely challenging task is Argentina regular Martin Demichelis. The South Americans were drawn in Group B alongside Nigeria, South Korea and 2004 European champions Greece. World Cup holders Italy, for whom Luca Toni is hoping to make a comeback in the near future, look to have a comparatively easy task in Group F against Paraguay and unfancied duo New Zealand and Slovakia.

The South Africans face Mexico in the opening match on 11 June in Johannesburg, also the venue for the Final on 11 July. The now-traditional Group of Death label goes to Group G, where five-time winners Brazil meet Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal and North Korea.