Saturday, June 1 in Sapporo (8:30 pm ET)
Group E: GERMANY (0-0-0, 0 pts.) vs. SAUDI ARABIA (0-0-0, 0 pts.)
(TV: Live, ESPN2, Univision, 7:30 am ET; Tape, Telefutura, 3 pm ET/PT)
Not much is expected of Germany in this World Cup. The Germans have struggled in recent years -- two losses to the United States in 1999, a humiliating first-round exit from Euro 2000, a 5-1 loss to England at home in World Cup qualifying last year -- and enter the finals with all kinds of injury problems.
It will be very much a makeshift team that opens against the Saudis. Coach Rudi Voeller is gambling that giant Carsten Jancker's strength will unsettle the Saudis. Miroslav Klose will more likely provide the finishing the Germans need.
Unfancied Saudi Arabia played strong European teams close in its last two openers (2-1 loss to the Netherlands in 1994 and 1-0 loss to Denmark in 1998).
Germany -- 1 Kahn, 21 Metzelder, 5 Ramelow, 2 Linke, 22 Frings, 19 Schneider, 8 Hamann, 13 Ballack, 6 Ziege, 9 Jancker, 11 Klose.
Saudi Arabia -- 1 Al Deayea, 3 Tukar, 4 Zubromawi, 12 A. Al Dossary 13 Sulimani, 8 Noor, 16 Al Dosari, 18 Al Temyat, 19 Al Ghamdi, 9 Al Jaber, 20 Al Yami.
Ubaldo Aquino (Paraguay).
Since group play was reintroduced in 1950, Germany has lost only one opener. The Germans, who have an 8-1-3 (won-lost-tied) record in group openers, were upset by Algeria, 2-1, in 1982.
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