England crash out at hands of masterful Germans
By Matthew Duncan.
And so it came to pass that Germany once again showed the English what it means to produce a team fit for international tournaments as a vastly superior and more confident German side put out the feeble light that was England’s World Cup campaign by cruising to a 4-1 victory in Bloemfontein. Goals from Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and a brace from Thomas Muller highlighted the poor standard of the England team and left many questioning the future of Fabio Capello.
The opening stages were cagey with nerves apparent on both sides of the divide contributing to a fairly turgid first ten minutes. The first chance of the game fell to the German danger-man Mesut Ozil. A simple ball over the top was not picked up by Matthew Upson and the 21 year old German got away a shot, only to see it saved by the knee of David James. Jermaine Defoe showed good strength to hold the ball up before Frank Lampard was brought down 30 yards from goal but his free kick was hit straight at the wall.
The master poacher Miroslav Klose then gave the Germans the lead after some very poor defending. A long goal kick from Neuer was allowed to bounce before John Terry and Matthew Upson parted like the Red Sea to allow Klose to muscle in and poke the ball past a despairing David James. That goal was his 12th in the World Cup, edging him closer to the all-time record, held by Ronaldo.
England seemed unable to get a grip on the game, continuing to look for the killer long ball at every opportunity instead of looking to play the ball through the channels. The tactics seemed far removed from what the players are used to week in week out in the Premier League. James was the hero for England soon after, using his legs to deny Klose a second after the Bayern Munich striker found himself through on goal.
However it was not to be the moment that halted the German charge, instead it was just a moment of respite as minutes later yet more poor defending allowed Lukas Podolski the luxury of a bad first touch and still have time enough to thrash the ball past James from the left hand side of the penalty area.
And yet hope sprung eternal eventually. A corner from the right was played short to Steven Gerrard and his delightful, hanging cross was headed past Manuel Neuer by Upson, an act which went a small way towards redeeming him for his earlier mistakes. Upson’s mistakes were completely forgotten seconds after that goal when Frank Lampard picked the ball up on the edge of the box and sent a wonderful lob over Neuer and in via the underside of the crossbar. However, the Uruguayan linesman ruled that the ball had not crossed the line, despite the fact that it was clearly a foot or more over the line.
At the break the momentum was clearly with England, who could so easily have been three or four down only ten minutes earlier. However the England surge that felt inevitable never materialised. Pressure was soaked up by the Germans whilst England couldn’t create any clear cut chances.
The goal that finally killed England’s World Cup chances was something of a microcosm of England’s failings. A free kick was it into the wall by Lampard and Gareth Barry’s poor touch allowed the Germans to counter attack and Podolski’s pass played in Muller who fairly lashed the ball past James who will perhaps have been disappointed not to get more of his body behind the ball as it passed him at the near post.
England were again visibly rattled and three minutes later their World Cup was well and truly over. Again it was Muller who found the back of the net but the credit must go to Ozil who outpaced the poor Gareth Barry and out the ball on a pate for Muller to fire home and spark wild celebrations by the German contingent within the Free State Stadium. Our Teutonic cousins never looked like giving England a chance and the rest of the game was played at almost walking pace as England failed to generate any new ideas.
Questions will now be asked of English football in general. Why can the players who look like world beaters in the Premier League and Champions League not reproduce that form for the Three Lions? At this tournament it seemed that the tactics were wrong but the majority of the blame must be laid at the feet of the big players. Wayne Rooney was poor throughout, Gareth Barry was awful, especially against the Germans, whilst the defence never inspired confidence.
All these questions will hopefully be answered in due course but for now it is that time again to sit and watch the World Cup without the stress that England bring with them.
Who is to blame for England’s failure? Who do you think will win the World Cup now? Who are you looking forward to watching?
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