Ozil provides X-factor threat to England
World Cup 2010: Johannesburg
Clear your mind of every stereotype that has been attached to England's fiercest footballing foes because the main threat to the Three Lions' hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals on Sunday in Bloemfontein does not lie in the platitudes previously handed out to German tournament teams: ruthless, clinical, efficient.
No, the danger this time is slightly different. In fact, it can probably best be summed up in two words: Mesut Ozil.
The 21-year-old Werder Bremen playmaker with the dribbling skills of a young Paul Gascoigne and the bulging eyes of a goal-hungry Salvatore Schillachi is the Teutonic talk of the tournament.
A stunning performance in their opening game - a 4-0 drubbing of Australia - was followed up by a match-winning role in Germany's decisive final Group D fixture against Ghana, Ozil's majestic left-foot strike from 20 yards gliding into the corner of goalkeeper Richard Kingson's net to set up a last-16 contest with England.
Now, despite his tender years and the fact that he has played only 13 games for his country, scoring twice, Ozil is not only the man England fear most but the man who carries the hopes and dreams of his chosen country on his shoulders.
Not so long ago, Ozil was being pressurised into playing his international football for Turkey, the land of his parents' birth. But Ozil, born in Gelsenkirchen and part of a new breed of ethnically diverse footballers for whom Germany is their adopted nation, has quickly become the poster boy for a new generation of Germans.
Eleven of Joachim Loew's squad of 23 could have played for another country; but it is the capture of Ozil, the man who brings flair and fantasy to Loew's team, that gives a quintessentially German team an X-factor that makes them perilously unpredictable.
Before I get any further, let me make it clear that despite Germany legend Horst Hrubesch's proclamation that Ozil is "our own Lionel Messi", the Bremen man plays nothing like his Barcelona counterpart.
Yes, Ozil has a sweet left foot and, yes, he can change a game in an instant, but he possesses neither the electric turn of pace of Messi nor the lethal finishing in the final third. To compare the German star with Messi, the best player on the planet, would simply do a disservice to the former at this stage in his career.
Having said that, while watching Ozil against Ghana at Soccer City on Wednesday, there was no doubt at all about his importance to the side. With Cacau replacing the banned Miroslav Klose as the spearhead of the Germany attack (Klose will return on Sunday), Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski occupying the wings and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira sitting in midfield, Ozil's task was to roam wherever he felt he should go.
The free role that Steven Gerrard so pleads for in an England shirt has been thrust into Ozil's lap at a precocious time in his career, but the former Schalke man is comfortable with the responsibility and certainly no feeling of inferiority as he goes hunting for the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch.
Drifting from wing to wing while he watches play like a hawk, Ozil is not an easy man to pick up, with Gareth Barry the most likely England player to cover the ground he most occupies. It is unlikely Barry will go man-to-man on Ozil, so Gerrard on the left and James Milner on the right will have to be aware that, at times, Ozil accompanies Mueller and Podolski as they launch raids from the flanks.
Ozil's intelligent reading of the game and willingness to look for space beyond Cacau sent him clear of the Ghana defence, only for Kingson to deny him twice.
At least I thought it was more a reflection of Kingson's reflexes than any obvious weakness in Ozil's game, until I asked German football journalist Christian Nürnberger to tell me about his country's brand new wunderkind.
"Ozil is a very good player, that is clear," said Nürnberger. "But he does have a big fault, and you saw it when he got into the Ghana penalty area the other night. In my opinion, Ozil is too phlegmatic. I wouldn't call him lazy, but he doesn't have the energy and the fight of, say, a Wayne Rooney.
"What happened against Ghana, we have seen in the Bundesliga many times before. When he gets into the penalty area, Ozil is not very good - he misses a lot of one-on-ones because he cannot sort his head out in time. It is far better to keep him outside the area because that's where he does his best work."
That was certainly true against Ghana, with Ozil sending an unstoppable shot past Kingson to seal Germany's progress. As well as ensuring he was the talk of the mixed zone afterwards, the goal sent the rumour mill into overdrive with speculation linking Ozil with a £20m move to the Premier League.
Speaking to Germany captain Philipp Lahm after the Ghana game, he was under no illusions that, in the absence of the injured Michael Ballack, Ozil has suddenly become a player of irreplaceable importance to the side.
"It is not easy to fill Ballack's boots, he is a big player and it's not easy for us without him, but Mesut is doing it his way and taking responsibility," said Lahm. "I think he will become one of the best players in the world. He is young but has big talent, so we will see.
"He always wants the ball, he's very good technically and he can score goals too as he proved against Ghana. He's not only a good player for us but he's different to what we have elsewhere in the squad, so he's very important. Every tournament has a man who makes a reputation and hopefully Mesut will be a star."
Almost a year to the day after his thrilling individual contribution helped Germany Under-21s win the European title with a 4-0 dismantling of Stuart Pearce's England side, Ozil has the chance to hand out a similar footballing lesson to the seniors.
"Our dream is to win the title," said Ozil on Wednesday. "That is what we are here for."
Maybe he does have a little of the German footballer stereotype in him after all.