Germany 4-0 Argentina

Posted: July 3, 2010 in World Cup
Tags: , , , , , ,

Four-nil, holy shit!

I love Germany. I think I even started to love them as they were destroying England, that’s how good they are. I’ve always had a little bit of love for Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, especially when the latter was being ludicrously linked with Sheffield United (Sheffield United!). I used to really hate Schweinsteiger but I am now feeling it. The man is brilliant.

Germany played a perfect game here, against a phenomenally talented Argentina attack. Podolski and Muller are nominally forwards but they are so much more than that; their work-rate was remarkable and they constantly doubled back to negate the threat of Messi. Tevez was forced deeper and deeper, eventually resorting to a caricature of the bustling, never-give-up character we’ve seen for the Manchester clubs. Higuain barely had a sniff. Germany were in complete control; an early goal was a bonus and they restricted their opposition to long shots throughout whilst picking them apart on the counter. Perfect.

Argentina, on the other hand, played pretty dumb. They allowed the German midfield so much space; there was no pressure at all on Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Khedira whenever they were in possession, often able to cut their way to the edge of the Argentine penalty area without a player getting within 5 yards of them. Mascherano steamed about all over the place and I was amazed he didn’t get booked earlier in the game for the sheer weight of fouls that were thrown in with his excellent tackles. If he’d had someone alongside him of similar ilk the game might have panned out differently.

Schweinsteiger was lord and master of this game. Lawrenson named him as his player of the tournament so far – not sure I completely agree with that, but still, he can’t be far wrong. His transformation from lightweight winger to dominant midfield presence is incredible. He seems to glide about the game, always available and always in space – adept at the simple ball but also able to drive forward and shoot or cross. This was a great performance from a great player; his assist for the third goal was brilliant, slaloming into the box from a short corner, committing the keeper and teeing up Freidrich. I actually applauded the TV.

Miroslav Klose. 1 goal away from Ronaldo (the fat one), 2 goals away from becoming the greatest striker in World Cup history. It would be interesting to see the global/media reaction to him achieving that status, given that his club form has been mediocre and it would sit him alongside the likes of Pele, Gerd Muller, (Just Fontaine) and Ronaldo, players who are/were regarded as the greatest in the world at the time, to go down in the pantheon of football legends. Klose is a Polish guy no-one had heard of 8 years ago, before he won the Golden boot twice and is now joint-top scorer at this tournament. Although I never saw him play, I would imagine that comparisons run closest with Muller, a notorious poacher. I really hope he gets those two goals. Hell, I hope Germany win the whole thing.

So, Diego Maradona: not so easy after all, is it?

All through the tournament, Argentina have had it pretty simple. The closest they came to being tested was in that South Korea game; Korea pulled one back just before half-time then muffed a chance to equalise in the second half. They were well in the game at that point but gaps at the back were beautifully exploited by Messi and Higuain, and Argentina won 4-1. Aside from that they had an easy time of it against an oddly muted Nigeria (2-0), a bizarrely defensive Greece (2-0) and the linesman did them a big favour in a comfortable win over Mexico (3-1). This was Diego’s first test and they failed.

Leo Messi departs, along with a string of big names: Rooney, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi, however, does not deserve to be lumped into such flawed company. He might not have hit the net in this tournament (1 goal between the 4 names above) but do not think he has been poor; far from it. He has looked exactly like the player we saw last season for Barca. In fact, that’s about as apt a statement as I can think of, seeing as Barca’s participation in the Champions League ended when Inter Milan completely stifled Messi across two games and he had zero influence. The same was true here; he was completely marginalised for the first time in the tournament and it was left to Angel Di Maria – talented but not in the same league – to provide Argentina’s attacking threat.

No more Messi, no more Maradona antics. Now go on Germany, win it.

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