BERLIN-After two years without competitive football it is crunch time for hosts Germany on Friday as they open the World Cup against Costa Rica in Munich.
Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann has set the target of winning the trophy for the fourth time in the countryâ€™s history and admitted only fan power can drive this team - devoid of the world-class players that graced previous German sides - to glory.
â€œWe are very hungry for this opening match against Costa Rica. The fans, the players and myself all just want the tournament to start,â€ Klinsmann said.
â€œIt is the same at every World Cup we talk down our chances but after the first few matches everyone jumps on the bandwagon and we ride the wave.
â€œI hope we can get the fans behind us early on with a win over Costa Rica.â€
Germany are expected to defeat Costa Rica with relative ease and a convincing result and performance could get the 80 million fans right behind their country.
However anything but a win is likely to see supporters get on Klinsmannâ€™s back and increase the enormous pressure on the players.
Costa Rica are expected to be lambs to the slaughter but Germany should beware as opening World Cup games can spring surprises - just ask France.
Four years ago holders France opened the tournament against African side Senegal and lost 1-0.
The result shattered French confidence and the team crashed out at the group stage - Germany will not want the same to happen to them.
Captain Michael Ballack, ruled out of the game due to a calf injury admits the pressure is on the hosts to deliver but told the fans that Costa Rica should not be taken for granted.
â€œCosta Rica are not the most famous team but they are good technically and we will take them seriously.â€
Costa Ricaâ€™s star striker Paolo Wanchope is also a major worry.
Wanchope is suffering with a knee injury.
The World Cup hosts have never lost their opening match (13 wins, five draws).
Costa Rica are playing at their third World Cup, having also appeared in 1990 and 2002.
Group A is the only group featuring nations that were all at the 2002 World Cup.
Germany kick-start World Cup without Ballack