THREE-TIME world champions Germany will be on most people's list of favourites to win the tournament next year after going through qualifying without defeat.
The emergence of younger players to join experienced campaigners such as Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose has given rise to cautious optimism that the national team could go far in South Africa.
Coach Joachim Loew's task will be to find the right blend of youth and experience amid belief that there is now more quality in depth than 2006 when Germany reached the semis or at Euro 2008 when the Germans again showed tournament mettle by reaching the final.
“The basis for a World Cup win is good,” said Loew. “We have shown that we are capable of pulling out everything when it counts.”
Werder Bremen's Mesut Ozil has added creativity to midfield, while others from the under-21 squad – including defenders Jerome Boateng (SV Hamburg) and Andreas Beck – are knocking on the door.
Bayern's Philipp Lahm is a standout in an otherwise solid defence in which Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann and Arne Friedrich are regulars.
Of the strikers, Bayern Munich striker Klose is a certainty, as is Cologne's Lukas Podolski, while Bayern's Mario Gomez - despite failing to convince internationally so far – should be in the squad.
The Star: Michael Ballack, the 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder and Germany captain of the past five years remains the pivotal figure in the squad as he seeks to bow out in what could be his last international tournament with a first major title with his country.