It is only fans not footballers, we are told, who worry about history. Yet it was hard not to sense the ghosts of the past at both the Free State Stadium and Soccer City as Germany and Argentina inflicted further punishment on familiar adversaries in Sunday’s Round of 16 contests to set up a Cape Town quarter-final.
Any meeting of Germany and England comes weighted with memories of past encounters and there was an unwelcome feeling of déjà vu for Fabio Capello’s side in Bloemfontein.
England won the countries’ 1966 FIFA World Cup™ Final confrontation but Germany have been paying them back ever since. To Mexico 1970, Italy 1990 and UEFA EURO 96, we can now add South Africa 2010 after a last-16 contest that brought England’s heaviest defeat on the world stage.
The match had been billed as Germany’s youth versus England’s experience – and the former won hands down.
There is no doubt that this year’s World Cup tournament had been washed up with a touch of luck bites. Many teams had only suffered the misfortune of hard luck and England/ Germany match is no exception. Germany was completely voracious and England could only have succumbed to their being tamed.
With the aggrieved British Media carrying unjustified assault on the team and its coach, many may say that the Media may have failed to see the reality of the real truth about this year’s World Cup carrying along individual country good luck.
Poor England, had been very upfront in it’s attacks and very determined to carry the day as they commenced the match with passion vigour and zeal, but alas! could not provide any answer to the speed and slick passing of Joachim Low’s team, as evidenced by Thomas Muller’s second-half double, which concluded lightning counter-attacks as Germany achieved their biggest victory over their old foes.
While England must reconsider how to beat the game’s traditional giants in knockout competition on the world stage – something they have still not done without home advantage – Mexico’s conundrum tonight is how to get beyond the last 16.
Only when hosting the FIFA World Cup have they managed that feat and, like England, El Tri had a familiar sinking feeling in succumbing to Argentina, just as they had done at this same stage in 2006.
Unlike that closely fought contest, which Argentina won after extra time, this one was firmly in the grip of Diego Maradona’s men by half-time as they led 2-0. Carlos Tevez then struck the day’s most spectacular goal before youngster Javier Hernandez gave Mexico a glimmer of hope for the future with a fine consolation effort.
Lionel Messi may have yet to score but his team-mate Gonzalo Higuain claimed the outright lead in the race for the adidas Golden Boot by scoring Argentina’s second goal at Soccer City, his fourth of the competition. Moreover, La Albiceleste moved top of the team scoring table with ten goals – one more than the Germans. That statistic augurs well for the sides’ forthcoming encounter on Saturday, which fittingly offers a rematch of their Berlin quarter-final in 2006, won by Germany on penalties after a goalless draw. Argentina will want revenge but, as England can tell them, exorcising ghosts is not always easy when the Germans are around.
Germany 4-1 England
Argentina 3-1 Mexico
Goal of the day
Argentina 3-0 Mexico, Carlos Tevez, 52 mins: Collecting the ball some five yards outside the D, the Argentina forward sought in vain to jink between two green shirts. The ball bounced back off a defender, however, and where Tevez failed with finesse, he succeeded with brute force, smashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner of Oscar Bravo’s goal.
One to remember
Frank Lampard left the 2006 finals with an unwanted record for the most shots, but not a single goal. “The margins which separate success and failure at this level are less than a hair’s breadth,” he noted in his autobiography. Today in Bloemfontein, though, it was rather a crossbar’s breadth. He saw one shot strike the woodwork and bounce down behind goalkeeper Manuel Neuer only for referee Jorge Larrionda to rule no goal. He then rattled the bar with a free-kick with England still chasing an equaliser. It was not to be for the midfielder, a serial scorer for Chelsea who seems fated never to register a goal on the biggest stage.
Quote of the day
“I want to dedicate this win to my friend Valentino Rossi who has not been well,” Argentina coach Maradona spares a thought for the Italian Moto GP rider who is recovering from a compound fracture of his right leg.
15 – Germany marched into the last eight for the 15th successive FIFA World Cup after beating England. Fifteen is also the number of goals recorded in the Round of 16 so far – the first four games producing the same total accumulated by all eight games in 2006.
Voice of the fans
“What can we say? Klose’s finishing, Muller’s ability to find open space, Lahm’s defending, Ozil’s passing and awareness… Great game – Germany proved a lot of people wrong,” FIFA.com userLococabbage.
Have your say
Can Argentina avenge their 2006 loss to Germany?