In a city by the Table Mountain, Argentina’s World Cup dreams plateaued. They were blown away by Germany just like cloud on mountain-top on a windy day here. Former England skipper Gary Lineker’s famous words of soccer being a game of 22 people but in the end, Germany always wins, seemed appropriate at Green Point Stadium on Saturday. See more
For the third successive World Cup this century, Germany will play the semi-finals. Even Brazil aren’t this consistent. And consider this: skipper and midfielder Michael Ballack, defender Heiko Westermann, defensive medio Simon Rofles and goalkeeper Rene Adler got injured just before the finals. Robert Enke, who should have been the first choice between the posts, committed suicide last November. Yet the Germans win.
Typifying the German spirit was Thomas Mueller. A second booking ruled him out of the World Cup semifinal but the young Bayern Munich midfielder didn’t let his disappointment show. He slid in the pass for the second goal. From the stands, Ballack beamed. Eight years ago in a similar situation, he had scored the matchwinner for Germany in a World Cup semi-final.
Argentina went full pelt at Joachim Loew’s young team in the second half on Saturday, trying to neutralise Thomas Mueller’s early strike. Lionel Messi wove inside before Angel di Maria drove over. Per Mertesacker took a shot on his face and later, another Di Maria ball was just out of Gonzalo Higuain’s reach.
Higuain tried again and Manuel Neuer saved. With a leg here, a block there and with the midfield shoring up the back four, Germany denied the marauding Argentines. As Argentina pushed up, their defence lost shape and Germany punished them with three m
Shots (on Goal)
Klose’s second and Germany’s fourth too came from that side. Germany have never lost when this lanky striker has scored. And it was Otamendi’s foul on Podolski that led to Mueller heading Schweinsteiger’s free-kick home in the third minute.
Even in the first half, Argentina didn’t look compact when Germany had the ball. The midfield trio of Javier Mascheranho, di Maria and Maxi Rodrgiues couldn’t play close to the backline and Mueller, Podolski and Philipp Lahm would be found in areas Argentina didn’t want them. Had Klose not scuffed over in the 24th minute, the humiliation would have started earlier.
Yes, Messi did manage to thread a super pass for Carlos Tevez but Neuer was not to be denied. Long after the match, German fans congregated on one of the lower tiers waving flags, screaming ‘Deutschland, Deutschland’, beating drums and singing. Before taking the party to Durban, where Germany will seek the right to be at Soccer City for the World Cup final on July 11, Cape Town should see a long night of celebrations.