Luke’s World Cup: no wizards of Oz


The games have varied between tedious and intriguing, without so far being exactly enthralling. But that statement may depend on which games you’ve seen. I saw hardly any of Germany v Australia whereas Luke Harvey watched it all, and it inspired in him this eulogy to Teutonic efficiency …

The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is quite an impressive structure. Boasting a capacity of 70,000 during its use as a World Cup venue, every seat offers a perfect view to the ongoing match down below.

However, there will have been few better placed spectators during Germany’s 4-0 rout of Australia than the winning team’s goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.

The German World Cup machine roared to life in indomitable fashion, and 24-year-old Neuer was very much an onlooker for the majority of the match.

When a team is described as “organised and tight defensively”, it’s generally slang for “going to park the bus”, and the phrase is often associated with the Australian national team. Against the Germans, though, they were anything but organised, and they were far from tight defensively either as the Socceroos were subjected to torrents of attacks from all angles by an impressive looking Germany.

Perhaps my love-in with a country which has long been identified as there to be loathed should be kept to a minimum; I just can’t seem to help it. I rarely make it through an article about German football without mentioning efficiency, and this is no different.

The way their entire team ticked was beautiful to watch, and how they ripped apart an already lacklustre looking Australia left me wondering why my own nation can never seem to replicate such feats – though I would be discouraged from voicing such opinions to my closest friends. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s no comparing USA and Australia.

I’m sure there would be no disagreement from either global hemisphere if I suggested that when placed side by side, the current USA team are leagues ahead of their Australian counterparts – a fact which was highlighted in the 3-1 score line between the two sides prior to this tournament.

Though I’m sure England have the potential to dispatch both Algeria and Slovenia with equally comfortable four-goal margins, I can’t imagine watching the match and being left purring in delight at the link up play between midfield and attack like I was while watching the Germans.

Before the match, Germany’s manager Joachim Low looked a calm and relaxed man, leaning against the dugout as if it were a bus shelter. Meanwhile his jacket was slung over a light blue shirt. He looked less like an international manager than an office temp whose appearance at work wasn’t of their highest concern. Manuel Neuer, too, was looking relaxed, but not even he could have imagined such an easy first foray into World Cup football.

Neuer currently finds himself as Germany’s first choice goalkeeper, albeit through some unfortunate and tragic circumstances. He was propelled to second choice when Robert Enke tragically took his own life in November 2009, and just prior to the tournament, the then first choice goalkeeper Rene Adler suffered an injury that would see him out of action for the duration of the competition.

Twelve months removed from helping the under-21s win the European title, Neuer now finds himself handed the task with helping the full internationals lift the World Cup.

Mesut Ozil was one of the players alongside him when Germany’s under-21 team saw off our own nation’s brightest stars in the 2009 European Championship final. Ozil would walk away from that match with one of their four goals and the man of the match award, and while he failed to find the score sheet against Australia – he once again picked up the title of man of the match, and deservedly so.

The German national, born to Turkish parents, was in imperious form as virtually every wave of attack seemed to begin with the ball at his feet. A gifted playmaker, he showed vision, deft touches and maturity beyond his years as he carved open the Australian defence time and again, and from all areas of the pitch as well.

Mind you, his blatant dive that earned him a deserved yellow card will not endear himself to anyone here at Salut HQ, where cheating is looked down on in stern headmasterly fashion.

There is a reason for us to remain optimistic though. In 2002, Germany would win all but two matches; in fact they conceded only two goals for the duration of the tournament.

One of those instances was when they managed to draw with Ireland. Now this is most definitely not a slight against Ireland, but when a German team that would go on to march to the final can’t overcome a team that started with Gary Breen and Kevin Kilbane in its line up, you have to ask some questions.

Germany most certainly aren’t unbeatable, but I think I’d rather avoid them in the second round if at all possible. I want us to beat them in the final, anyways.

4 thoughts on “Luke’s World Cup: no wizards of Oz”

  1. No worries Luke.

    That’s a very good point about the Germans. Giving away a lead is something rarely if ever seen with them. They can close a game off, when they feel that they can’t add to it, but as often as not they can kill a game more effectively by scoring a second or third. The game against Oz was a wonderful example of teamwork and playing for each other, in contrast to England’s lack lustre display against what is still middle of the road opposition. England go to 1-0 and the team behave as if they “hoped” they could win from there. There was a complete lack of conviction about them against the USA.

  2. Less a “disciplined” efficiency, and just more an “overall” efficiency.

    Compare that to our match, after going 1-0 up (and again I realise the difference in opposition) we never really looked like adding a second or third.

    Germany scored early on as well and just went from strength to strength. It’s not often I see them throw away leads, they’re generally just pretty ruthless throughout the entire match.

    Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

  3. Lovely article Luke.

    You struck a chord with me about Germany and the “love in.” It’s a wonderful country with some tremendous people,m beautiful cities and wonderful countryside. Add to that some good summer weather, a few pints of the local brew and you could be in paradise. People have often looked at my awry when I’ve told them we’ve been to Germany on our holidays! They are missing a treat. Fantastic place to visit.

    Unlike the usual “efficient” football which is customarily associated with the Germans I thought there was a sense of freedom associated with the way they played against Australia that we’ve not really seen from anyone else so far. They were still very disciplined but are the best side that I’ve seen so far by some margin.

  4. It must be remembered that in 2002 Germany were in the England qualifying group and managed to scrape in through the play-offs. In Munich an equally efficient England team with Micheal Owen leading the line destroyed Germany. Germany had an incredibly easy draw in Korea only meeting a team in the top twenty in the semi’s against USA. Don’t worry about our teutonic rivals they won’t be there OZ were as poor as I have seen any team, but wait for NZ then the standards will reach an all time low

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