Monday, 14 June 2010

The Germans are coming!

A marker has been set, and kneejerkers all around the land are throwing themselves on board the German bandwagon.

Perhaps tonight was the night that the World Cup finally came alive. Whilst it has by no means been a poor tournament, it needed something to really kick start it into action. This match might well be the moment, especially as it leads into a week in which Holland, Italy, Brazil, Portugal and Spain all take to the stage.

Before Germany destroyed Australia, it was a day of two mental handballs and another absolutely shocking goalkeeping mistake. Algeria and Slovenia showed nothing to worry either of the other teams in the group, although the North Africans do have a habit of going all out to cripple the opposition when they start losing, so perhaps England should play them in full body armour. There's not a lot more to say about that game, other than to give a lot of credit to Slovenia for even getting this far. A country with only 13,000 registered footballers getting to, and winning a game at, the World Cup is a fantastic achievement.

Ghana were much better than I expected, Anthony Annan had such an excellent game they hardly missed Essien in midfield, and they probably just about deserved their win. Marcel Desailly's celebrations, in his naturally bonkers way, showed just how much that will mean back home. Given how Australia played, Ghana must now be favourites to take second as beating the Socceroos will almost certainly be enough. It's not inconcievable that they could meet the US in the second round, a side they beat in Germany 4 years ago. A win there, onto the quarter finals and who knows...

...Maybe I'm getting carried away.

Talking of which, let's go massively over the top about Germany's performance. No? They did play well, their front 4 in particular looks very fluid and Mesut Ozil had an excellent game (as predicted, I might add!). It's important not to go too far though, Australia were rubbish and gave Ozil far too much space in front of their defence. From there he could pick them apart, which he did with alarming regularity. Cahill's sending off was harsh but they would have lost regardless, the most important repurcussion of it is that their one real goal threat is suspended. Germany's defence is still the weak point and it wasn't ever properly tested tonight, apart from a corner early on which caused chaos in the box. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up under more sustained attack. Saying that, they clearly have ability going forward, and the capability of playing possession football to relieve pressure. Something England really need to learn to do, and fast.

Looking ahead, tomorrow should be a fascinating day. Italy face Paraguay in the evening, a game which is probably going to be fairly cautious but should give us an insight as to whether this Italian team is really too old or if they've been prematurely written off again. They always seem to be discarded as contenders because of the age of their squad, but they know how to win World Cups. I just don't think they're very good, regardless of age. I'm not sure their experience will see them through games against better sides like it has before, the gulf has become too big.

The Samuel Eto'o show also rolls into town, and could well keep rolling over the edge of a cliff. Anything could happen there, but his mind seems to be all over the place and the rest of his team is so far behind in terms of ability. Rigobert Song of Liverpool 'fame' still gets in the team, that does not bode well. Prior to that comes the side I'm most looking forward to seeing, is this year finally the year the Dutch come to the party? How they fare against a half decent Danish side should give us a clue, but it's important to remember they won't have Arjen Robben available, and when he gets fit they have a player who can change games on his own.

After 3 rather underwhelming days, we're really off this time!

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