Sportsball (World Cup 2010), Matchday Seventeen (Last 16)

England 1-4 Germany

There seems to be only one thing that everyone is talking about, but’s lets take a look at this gradually.

Germany were all over England in the opening stages. The English have never demonstrated a great defensive competence, and Klose, Schweinsteiger and Podolski were all eager to take advantage. The two goals reflect very poorly on England. The first, route one football at its finest, demonstrating Klose’s great poaching skills. The second, an awful lapse in the right back position, allowing Podolski an incredible amount of free space to hammer it home.

Then England got into the game. Upton’s reply was lucky, a result of Keeper Neuer going walkabout. Then, the big, arguably defining moment.

It was over the line. A great strike. Time to begin anew the debate over video referrals. It should be brought in. Any argument against I will present these two searing images: Lampard with the ball in the goal and Henry shepherding a ball with his left hand. To hell with your arguments, your denials, your traditionalist pleas. Kindly join us in 2010, where we can eliminate this nonsense from the game.

Anyway, the lack of this goal did alter the game. At 2-2 England would have been rampant, the Germans deflated. The English would not have been required to leave so few players guarding the back in the second half. It would have been a very different game.

As it was, Germany waited for their moments and took them when they arrived. Two very clinical, killer strikes taking advantage of the huge gaps at the back. England were undone, and Germany were able to see the game out comfortably. Ozil the talisman again. Too many English players were on bad form, principley Rooney, but also Gerrard, Terry and Milner. Germany were much the better team and deserved the win.

Bad tournament for the English, but Germany look strong, by far the strongest team left from Europe. Big test against…

Argentina 3-1 Mexico

Oh god, it was almost a carbon copy of that first game. Controversial goal, with an adverse effect on the conceding team, that shapes the rest of the game.

Mexico were doing fine, then Tevez got his offside but-oh-wait-it-it actually-wasn’t goal and Mexico lost it. Complete lack of composure. Bad giveaway for the second goal, little attacking purpose for the rest of the half, and constant fouling (25 by Mexico to Argentina’s 10).

They improved in the second half, but their was too much emphasis on crosses from the flanks which just weren’t working. Tevez’s smashing third had left Argentina comfortable and they were able to sit back, practice their defensive play and let Mexico come at them. Nice consolation from Hernandez, and a worrying lapse by the South American back four. I look forward to seeing him at Old Trafford.

Another game that can become an advertisement for instant replay. It’s going to happen, sooner or later.

So, Germany/Argentina. Difficult to call. Neither team has had a really stern test yet, but that’s about to change. Both have a good team ethic, both have young, quick squads, both have a strong attack. But I’m more impressed with Germany who are doing so well with a less experienced squad. I’m leaning towards them.

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