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Germany will put a fourth team into the European Champions League, at Italy’s expense, for the 2012-13 tournament.
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20-year-old striker Thomas Muller has been awarded the Adidas Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup Finals, an incredible achievement for a player who who only made his international debut in March of this year. Although the 5 goals he scored in the South African Finals puts him the same as David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan, the Bayern Munich man’s three assists saw him grab the award.
Muller’s efforts in helping Germany reach the semi-final also won him the Hyundai Best Young Player of the tournament award.
Germany made 5 changes for this match compared to the team which played the semi final, but were still too good for a plucky Uruguay.
This was one of the more entertaining games in the tournament and with little to play for both sides opened up and treated the fans to some nice end to end football.
Germany opened the scoring on 18 minutes when the Uruguay keeper Muslera, who was not to have a great game spilled a long range shot, and Muller was the first to react stabbing the ball home. However this lead only lasted 10 minutes thanks to some nice Uruguay football starting with a great tackle on Schweinsteiger and ending with Cavani calmly slotting the ball into the net thanks to a lovely Forlan pass. Uruguay were now firmly back in the match and going into half time it looked like they could fancy their chances.
The second half which was played in heavy rain continued in the same vein and it was no surprise when possibly the player of the tournament Diego Forlan put the South Americans 2-1 up with a well taken volley. This put him level in the Golden Boot competition and with assists possibly counting in the event of a tie he could be in with a chance.
Victory would have been sweet for Uruguay who because of their early success are often thought of as a bigger team than they really are, but alas for them it was not to be and two bits of bad defending cost them dear as Germany took the third place medal for a second consecutive World Cup.
Germany’s final two goals came from Jansen in the 56th minute, when he headed in following a hopeless flap at the ball by Muslera and Khedira who pounced on some defensive hesitancy in the 82nd minute.
As per usual Uruguay refused to give up and with the last kick of the game Diego Forlan hit the crossbar from a free kick.
It has been a great World Cup Finals for both teams and Uruguay Manager Oscar Tabarez’s and his team can look forward to a heros welcome when they return to Montevideo while the German Coach Joachim Loew who was much maligned pre-tournament will probably be able to write his own salary cheque when renegotiating his contract
Germany 3-2 Uruguay
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
This is not a game any country wants to play in, knowing they were so close but fell at the final hurdle. Still being the third best team in the world is no mean achievement and these games have often been more entertaining than the final.
This time round its the perenial appearers Germany against the pre tournament write offs Uruguay in what will be a replay of the 1970 3rd -4th play off match which Germany won 1-0.
Uruguay who have not had much success against European teams over the years must be thrilled to have made it this far and for a country of only 3.5m people its no mean achievement these days. They showed a lot of pluck against Holland and a never say die attitude which was refreshing after so many cautious matches in this years finals. In Forlan they have a player who can score from nothing and Suarez will be back from suspension, which will be a big help for them up front and possibly in their own penalty box should the “new hand of God” be called upon.
Germany seem a lot less botherd about this game with Lahm and Neuer both being dropped and seem to be treating this as a chance to give a few players a teste of the tournament. Its nice they are giving some of their second string a run out, and the experience will be of great benefit to them as Germany prepare for their assault on the 2012 European Championships, for which they will be close to favourites.
Overall this will be a close game and despite Uruguay never having beaten a European side in the World Cup Finals since 1970 I just have a feeling they will end their drought here and take them to win by the odd goal.
In what is probably not a major surprise given his sub standard performances of late, Spain have elected to change their formation slightly dropping Fernando Torres and replacing him with Pedro who is more of a winger than a striker.
The main surprise for me is that they haven’t started either Fernando Llorente (right) or Cesc Fabregas in his place either of whom could add a new dimension to the Spanish play.
Germany are at near full strength with the only notable absentee being Thomas Mueller who is suspended.
This will be the most anticipated match of the tournament with the devastating counter attacking of the Germans coming up against the stylish passind and ball control of the Spanish. It goes without saying that whoever grabs the first goal in a game like this will have a huge advantage and this could either lead to a cautious start or a German Blitzkrieg like their opening against Argentina.
Germany have been one of the surprises of the tournament, largely written off by most pundits as being too young and lacking any big star names. this is possibly true as if you put a transfer value on the German starting line up they would cost a fraction of what the Spanish team would command, and they would even be valued below the teams they have already soundly beaten in the second stages, namely England & Argentina. But as has been shown so often in the past it is the “better team” who wins rather than the better collection of individual players and in this respect Germany are one of the best this World Cup. If Germany do have a weakness it is in the centre of their defense and this could be a worry against a neat passing team like Spain.
Spain by comparison have a team stuffed with household names and in David Villa they probably have the player of the tournament. The rest of the squad is strong too and they seem to be able to retain possession even when they are being pressurised as shown in their surprisingly tough match against Paraguay. They will be at full strength for the game unlike Germany who will be without Thomas Muller due to suspension.
Spain have never reached a World Cup Semi Final before (their 4th place in 1950 was the result of finishing botom of the final group) while Germany and regular last four competitors, however this should count for nothing as this Spain side are full of confidence following their 2008 European Championships win when they beat Germany in the final.
Overall this is going to be a close game and although Germany will make things tough for spain I just feel that finally this exciting Germany team will sucumb. Thus the prediction is for Spain to advance to the final by the odd goal possibly in extra time.
Argentina never knew what had hit them as Germany produced the performance of the tournament going a goal up after three minutes and then proceeding to add 3 more in the second half to round off a resounding victory.
Argentina to their credit didn’t play badly and actually had more shots and possession, but their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed as the Germans produced a devastating display of counter attacking football.
Germany must now be favourites to win the final and despite the pre tournament doubters they have kept up their enviable record of consistency in the World Cup having only failed to make the Quarter Finals once since their first victory in 1954.
Now the possibility of a re-run of the 1974 final looks probable and that would be a great game as Holland will want to add their name to the list of winners, something they would have done in 1974 had they not started showboating in the final when 1-0 up.
Argentina Manager Diego Maradonna will probably be contemplating his future now, but hopefully he will stay on.
Argentina 0-4 Germany
This could be the game of the tournament today as the spirited by youthful Germany take on the experienced players from Argentina in Cape Town today. Both teams are attack minded and Germany in particular have shown that they can hit a team on the break.
So far Argentina under the management of ex star Maradonna have looked the most impressive team in the tournament and have maintained a 100% record but unlike the Dutch they have done it with a bit of style. They have scored 10 goals so far and only conceded 2 and beat one of the better last 16 teams, Mexico with a bit in hand to reach the Quarter Finals.
Germany too have been quite impressive with 9 goals scored and only 2 conceded, but they did somehow manage to lose to Serbia and only just got the better of Ghana in their final group match. Their 4-1 trouncing of England looks good on paper but there are severe questions over the England team and this form is probably not as good as it would appear.
Germany will undoubtedly be a major force in International football over the next few years, but they might just find Argentina a step too far at this stage and although there might not be more than a goal in it Argentina are tipped to gain revenge for their 2006 exit to Germany so progress to the Semi Finals where they should meet Spain.
This was billed as a clash of youth v experience with the seasoned pro’s of England expected to be too strong for the talented but inexperienced Germans. However this was not how it turned out as Germany produced one of their better performances to inflict England’s worst ever World Cup Finals Defeat.
In front of a vociferous crowd of 40,510 it was the Germans whom seemed to settle best and it was no surprise when the old man of their team Miroslav Klose opened the scoring on 20 minutes. The goal was more pub football than World Cup class and came from a long punt down field, which somehow eluded the whole England defense, and when Podolski added a second things looked bleak indeed.
However to their credit England rallied and Matthew Upson partially atoned for his poor defensive performance by heading England back into the game. Then in the 39th minute a moment of controversy struck as Frank Lampard drove a powerful shot against the Cross bar which bounced down over the goal line before bouncing back out. The Referee and his assistants were probably the only people in the stadium who didn’t see it and instead of going in level at half time England were forced to come out and chase the game in the second half.
Having to push forward looking for an equaliser inevitably left England vulnerable to the counter attack and germany took full advantage of this through Thomas Muller who struck twice in 3 minutes to end any lingering hopes England had of making the Quarter Finals. Watching how clinically he took them it was hard to believe he is only 20 years old and if this crop of younger players maintain this momentum then Germany will continue to be a major force in international football for many years.
England will now begin the inquests and Cappello will no doubt come under intense scrutiny as the possibly overblown expectations have failed to materialise. No doubt the manager will be the scape goat but to be fair this England squad far from being the much touted Golden Era Team have only a few World Class players, and these mostly play for or have played for Chelsea. Until the English Premier leagues top clubs start to develop home grown talent England will continue to disappoint on the big stage.
As for Germany they have sent a big warning message to the other teams not only for this tournament but for the 2012 European Championships and although this years world Cup will probably be beyond them it would be unwise to wager too much against them.
The first really big game of the last 16 kicks off this afternoon when Germanys young and somewhat inexperienced squad plays England who have been a little disapointing in the tournament so far, but on paper have a better starting 11.
The starting lineups will not be announced until close to kick off but England could name an unchanged squad for the first time under Capello’s reign and any change will probably be at centre back with Carragher possibly replacing Matthew Upson.
Germany will welcome back Klose who was suspended for the Ghana game following his sending off agains Serbia. This will put the Germans at near full strength and despite their relative youth they have had considerable experience at tournaments at unter 21 level.
The form line through Ghana probably gives Germany a slight edge in the game and from a purely pragmatic view England didn’t show enough to suggest they can beat them in their group showings. However the knockout stages are different and England are slowly finding their form which at their best would be good enough.
Overall the view is this will be a close one and extra time is a strong possibility and if it goes to penalties then surely by the law of averages it will be Englands day in Bloemfontein.
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