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.