Sunday, 13 June 2010

Germany v Australia

Germany4 - 0 Australia
Podolski 8
Klose 27
Muller 68
Cacau 70

Australia haven't been in many World Cups, but they've played a big part in some of my favourite moments. The first time they caught my eye was the 2006 group draw, in the December before the tournament.

It was your typical soulless, corporate FIFA operation, with everyone on their best behaviour. Until they came to the third team in Group F. Who would get Brazil? Everyone seemed to be holding their breath. Please don't let it be us. Out came the ball from the bag, and it was the Australians. There was silence for about half a second, then a ribald Aussie cheer rang out round the hall. Brazil? No problem.

They lost 2-0 to Brazil, but a point against Croatia took them through. You may recall that was the game when Graham Poll sent Josip Simunic off after he'd built up the remarkable tally of three yellow cards. In the end it took a highly dubious Italian penalty to send them home. What with the USA having another great game against Italy, it was an entertaining year for the old colonies. Mind you, the Italians probably think that every time we play.

So the Aussies have an eventful if short history in the World Cup. They got slaughtered today though, and this may not be their year.

As I so often seem to write, it could all have been so different. Australia had the first decent chance of the match after three minutes, when Cahill got a free header from a corner, and Garcia's shot from the rebound was just blocked on the line.

In the eighth minute reality reasserted itself. A cross came loose to Podolski (yes, the Poles think that's a Polish name as well), and he struck home from the edge of the box. Schwarzer got a hand to it, but it was just too hard to keep out.

The Australians rallied, and Culina and Garcia went close, but after 26 minutes Germany went two up. Lahm crossed, Schwarzer came when he shouldn't have and Klose beat him to the ball. It went in like an absolutely perfectly round bullet, and that was that really.

Germany have a new star, by the way. Tiring of stealing players from Poland, they've now got a brilliant young Turk, Mesut Ozil. That should of course be Mesut Özil, but I've decided not to bother with foreign characters, with the exception of é. This is because é is the only one I know the ASCI code for, and because I want the search functions on my blogging software and my squads spreadsheet to work easily. So there.

He outpaced Neill all night, but Neill just got back to clear on the line after Ozil had chipped it over Schwarzer on 40 minutes. Soon after, he beat him to a through ball Neill should have reached, knocked it round the keeper and just failed to reach it for a tap in. Unlucky.

Soon after the start of the second half, the game finished as a meaningful contest when Cahill was sent off for a tackle on Schweinsteiger. The Germans would have won anyway, but now Australia will have to do without him in their next game, and possibly both their next two.

It was a harsh decision, and the referee may have then been deliberately lenient to deny a German penalty claim when Moore bundled Khedira over in the box. It was a clear chance, so he'd have had to send Moore off as well, and he probably just couldn't bring himself to.

It didn't help. Muller scored after 67 minutes, deftling avoiding Chipperfield's tackle and shooting in off the post. Three minutes later Ozil found Cacau, who'd just come on, and he tapped it in for the fourth.

The Aussies are still the Aussies, cut from the same cloth as Matthew Hayden and David Campese, and they had the last three chances of the game. There was nothing doing though. If they're going to get any change out of Serbia and Ghana without Cahill, they're going to have to - well, let's face it, they aren't going to. Germany, meanwhile, have started with a goal each for four of their five strikers. Who can stop them now?

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